In June of 2020, having a competitive Eastern Province golfer, Wian van Aswegen, amongst its students and an established capability in advanced Additive Manufacturing (AM) design and manufacturing outputs, the Advanced Engineering and Design Group (AEDG) student team at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) initiated a project to create a unique configurable golf putter that could appeal to the needs of many high-level golfers.
This project reached its fruition in the manufacture of this unique golf putter during 2021, and the putter is now being successfully tested on the links golf courses of the Eastern Cape by Wian.
The ‘WvA’-designated putter was 3D printed in stainless steel by long-term collaborative private-sector partner and expert 3D print bureau, Akhani 3D, based in Howick KZN, using their state-of-the-art EOS metal printers.
The design also features unique forged-composite carbon-fibre removable and configurable weights, produced with the assistance of collaborative partner and composite experts, Custom Works, based in Jeffreys Bay. This added a further signature aesthetic to the design not featured in current commercially available clubs.
In June of 2020, having a competitive Eastern Province golfer, Wian van Aswegen, amongst its students and an established capability in advanced Additive Manufacturing (AM) design and manufacturing outputs, the Advanced Engineering and Design Group (AEDG) student team at the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) initiated a project to create a unique configurable golf putter that could appeal to the needs of many high-level golfers. Wian is seen testing the WvA putter on the Royal Port Alfred Golf Club links
The objective of the project was to produce a unique putter that allowed any golfer to specify their ideal configuration in terms of loft, lie angle, weighting, size, shape and groove pattern, whilst also allowing for specific aesthetic design demands as well.
These specifications can be adjusted very quickly in the base platform design in CAD and, through Akhani 3D’s advanced metal 3D printing capability, many putter variations can be printed simultaneously on the same EOS printing bed, creating a unique configuration and design for any interested golfer, establishing their own unique signature putter.
The adaptability of this design and manufacture process enabled by AM enables any golfer to make his preferred order and have their own unique completed putter in their hands in an extremely short period of time at a competitive price. Currently, golfers are restricted to off-the-shelf options from established manufacturers.
With the addition of the interchangeable weights, the golfer is also able to make small adjustments after the putter has been manufactured in terms of tweaking preferred weight distribution. These removable weights can be made of either the forged carbon composite material, Onyx (a patented nylon with embedded short fibre carbon fibre) or an array of available AM materials from plastics through to exotic metals, which allows for a vast array of weightings and designs to be attained for the discerning customer. Not only that, but the design of the weights can also be tweaked to further provide a unique design to the golfer, ensuring that their putter is truly one-of-a-kind. The design also includes a ball pick-up feature typical of many putters on the world stage to further aid the user. The putter is also quickly configurable for either left-handed or right-handed golfers.
The objective of the project was to produce a unique putter that allowed any golfer to specify their ideal configuration in terms of loft, lie angle, weighting, size, shape and groove pattern, whilst also allowing for specific aesthetic design demands as well
As the design’s main targeted demographic are golfers that play at a competitive level, the mass of the design is similar to that of modern traditionally mass-manufactured putters, mainly because golfers have become accustomed to the putters that they currently use. Several typical higher-end putters that are commercially available were used as benchmarks throughout the development phase, and the WvA putter tested very favourably in comparison in all respects.
So, by creating a putter with a similar feeling in terms of impact response ‘feel’, sound response and swing weight, golfers also have the added benefits of specific weight distribution, loft and lie angle without sacrificing any accustomed ‘feel’, or having to reinvent their putting game to accommodate a new putter.
To facilitate this whole process, the AEDG’s capability in simulation using their advanced Altair software suite’s capability in respect of structural and dynamic simulation, informed the design throughout the development phase, enabling the design to evolve from an initial left-field idea into a beautiful and functional final product that has impressed all that have seen and used it.
The AEDG’s proactive association with the NMU’s Human Movement Science (HMS) department’s advanced testing capability also enabled high-speed camera analysis which allowed correlation between computational and real-world dynamics, and this also informed the whole development process of the final putter design.
It is hoped to do further dynamic studies of a golfer’s form in a multitude of shot scenarios in collaboration with HMS going forward to enable competitive golfers to improve their game. Fortunately, the Eastern Cape is home to several top quality golfers, some of whom are students at the university, that may benefit from these types of research studies. This is also a wonderful collaborative endeavour between Engineering and HMS within the NMU, which can result in many diverse projects going forward.
Further, the putter project itself spawned several associated side-projects which included the development of moulds for the forged composite weights, an alignment tool ensuring that specific lie angle could be ensured between the putter head and shaft, as well as a putting simulator that is currently in research and development under Wian’s direction, so that further comparative testing can be carried out in future.
In November 2021, the putter was displayed on the EOS/Rapid3D stand at the annual RAPDASA Conference hosted at the CSIR ICC. A practice putting green was set up, and visiting delegates were invited to test their skills with the WvA putter in tandem with other typical higher-end putters, to great success, enjoyment and, in some cases, consternation at their lack of putting ability!
The intent ultimately is to homologate the putter with the Royal & Ancient (R&A) Club, the home of golf at St Andrews in Scotland, so that it can be officially used in competition should a player at that level desire to do so.
For further details contact Clive Hands, Project Manager of the Advanced Engineering and Design Group on Cell: 082 659-2422 or TEL: 041 504 3375