Information on materials hockey sticks are manufactured from
All things today involve good technology and hockey sticks are no exception. In the last 20 years in particular hockey stick manufacture has moved on from carving beautiful pieces of Mulberry wood in to creating hockey sticks from a range of materials combined to make composite sticks.
Not only does this allow for better reading on the internet than just a page saying hockey sticks are made from Mulberry wood, but the different materials allow for a number of advances in hockey stick composition such as developing different hockey stick weights, more definitive bows in the shaft, more features like anti-shock on impact and have made hockey sticks harder wearing on todays modern hockey pitch surfaces.
The desire to improve hockey stick functionality has lead to a huge emphasis on the technical development of these materials which in turn advances the features hockey stick brands can add to their stick therefore creating the best hockey stick for you dependent on your size, strength, playing position and style.
Initially in the move away from wooden sticks some manufacturers used aluminum that created hockey sticks with incredible hitting power. Running around the field wielding a piece of metal soon stood out as quite dangerous and this material was soon banned by the FIH.
Since the reduced cost of materials such as fibreglass, Kevlar and carbon fibre hockey, non-wood composite sticks have become the standard on most hockey fields.
Though wooden hockey sticks are still available, most purchases and therefore our hockey stick reviews are on composite new technology hockey sticks. We shall try to explain briefly each of these materials and the theory behind using them when designing the best hockey sticks.
Fibreglass – Very fine strands of glass are woven together to create fibre glass and combined with a resign to add resilience to the material. This material is relatively cheap to manufacture but is tough and used to give the hockey stick protection from wear and tear on artificial pitches. You will find in the hockey stick reviews that most manufacturers will give the percentage of fibreglass in the hockey stick and that the cost of the hockey stick reflects the amount of fibreglass as opposed to the more expensive materials.
Aramid – Another material made from weaving small fibres together you may have heard, certainly of Kevlar as the material used in bullet proof vests. In hockey sticks as you would imagine this material is added to the composite mix by some of the hockey stick brands to add strength to the stick mainly in the shaft and head that should then increase the feeling of strength. It is more expensive to manufacture than the other materials and the amount of Kevlar used in the manufacture of hockey sticks is small and often not present at all. Whether you would go out with the intention of purchasing a stick with added Kevlar probably depends on your appetite to hit incredibly hard or if you have a track record of breaking hockey stick made with a less strong material. It’s an extreme case.
Carbon Fibre – Carbon fibre is the material used in the manufacturing process of hockey sticks that makes it strong and stiff. This obviously improves the hockey stick power when hitting the ball. Carbon fibre as a material benefits from being very lightweight strands of material that are also extremely strong, well stiff is the right term. Where fibreglass and Kevlar have an element of flex, Carbon fibre is rigid and therefore brittle (to an extent). With the benefit of composite manufacturing processes in hockey sticks the hockey stick brands are able to combine carbon fibre with the other materials to determine the stiffness of the stick. The other thing with Carbon fibre is that it is very expensive and therefore the mix between it and fibreglass affects the price of the hockey stick. Again, this may or may not be a problem dependent on your style of play, if you like to hit the ball hard and like to feel stiffness in the shaft you will be looking for more Carbon fibre in your hockey stick. The reviews of each hockey stick by material composition on this site will highlight the mix of this material in the stick and the affect it has on the feeling of the hockey stick.
Basalt – A very interesting material that actually rock. Used to add durability and toughness in some hockey stick manufacturing you can imagine the benefit of adding rock to your sticks. Now the hockey sticks that use basalt in their composite sticks aren’t just cramming rocks in the shaft, from basalt they develop basalt fibre by crushing it, melting the rock down and then pushing the molten rock through nozzles to form fine fibres. Then like carbon fibre and fibreglass these tiny fibres are added to the composition of the stick material. Clever stuff, this is a harder material to find but for example recent Mercian hockey sticks include basalt in their composite hockey sticks.
Resin – Without a resin holding it all together a hockey stick made of the fibrous materials explained above would not be much use. Resins therefore are a hugely important part of a hockey stick composition. Though resins used by hockey stick brands are generally quite standard the combination of resin and other materials will affect the way the hockey stick plays. Each of our hockey stick reviews will give an overview, where possible of the resin used but will mainly highlight the weighting of fibreglass, Kevlar or carbon fibre in the hockey stick, which generally is the deciding factor in the feel of the hockey stick. Resin does play a massive part in the stick though, and itself is very important to the wear and tear a stick receives on the water and sand artificial surfaces we play on.
Though it is important to understand which materials are used in hockey stick manufacture there is too much argument, in my opinion, about which is the best hockey stick material available and in use in the manufacture of hockey sticks. Like most buying decisions in life you should evaluate each hockey stick based on the key points that might affect your game based on your preferred playing position and playing style, then balance this with meeting you budget needs and the longevity you would like to achieve with a hockey stick. Take in to account the hockey stick length and hockey stick weight that will suit you and buy one and start to play.
If you gathered enough information on how hockey sticks are made then take a look through the hockey stick reviews to start fitting the knowledge you have gained with the best hockey stick for your needs.