February 1, 2008
If youâ€™ve visited Europe lately, you may have noticed a number of darts competitions being televised. Serious players and strictly regulated international leagues have elevated the sport from a pub game to an organized spectator-friendly competition. Players who reach the upper echelons choose high-end darts, a number of which are made by Evolution Dart-Technologie (MÃ¶glingen, Germany). This forward-thinking manufacturer recently made the switch from metallic shafts to molded ones using Beetle 66CF4, a 20% carbon-fiber-filled nylon 6/6 compound from Chem Polymer, a business of Teknor Apex Co. (Ft. Myers, FL and West Midlands, UK).
Evolution, which supplies darts internationally, uses the carbon-reinforced material to mold 34- and 44-mm (1.3- and 1.7-inch) shafts that are lighter than metal counterparts and more breakage resistant than thermoplastic versions. â€œThe perpendicular forces generated in the dart as it strikes the target are great enough to pose a real challenge for other all-plastic shafts,â€ says Roland KÃ¼hn, owner of Evolution, â€œbut the outstanding tensile and flexural properties of the PA 66 compound make our new shafts better able to withstand the considerable stresses of repeated use by intensely competitive dart players.â€
Each dart consists of four components: tip, barrel (gripped by the player), flight (stabilizing fins), and shaft, which connects the barrel and the flight. The shaft can be made of metal, plastic, or a combination of plastic and a threaded metal segment.
Evolution was able to replace a former metal shaft with the new material because the carbon fiber added sufficient stiffness. It also saved weight and met dimensional stability targets, important for ensuring accurate and secure connections between the flight and barrel.
Compared to glass fillers, the carbon offers greater flexibility, which adds to the new dartsâ€™ improved break resistance. While on the market for only a few months, KÃ¼hn said that demand for darts that feature the carbon-fiber shafts is significant.
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