As an avid disc golfer, I am always fascinated when I see a disc golf disc take flight or fly to its destination after a player throws it on the course. It is comparable to a bird flying in the sky and trying to reach his next destination. But unlike the bird, the disc golf disc design was made to complement the skills of a player and the technique of his throws to reach his target. This realization has created an interest in knowing how disc golf discs are made, specifically to know the details of the process.
With the increasing numbers of disc golf enthusiasts playing this beautiful sport, it’s cool to think that there are a lot of disc golf discs available all over the world. I would say that the numbers can easily reach a million and it is continuing to increase by the day with more disc golf manufacturers making discs every day. There is no surprise that there are a lot of companies that have emerged over the years. It’s like an industry within an industry and it’s good for the sport, right?
But how are the sports equipment made in a disc golf disc manufacturer’s setting? Is is the same process on how frisbees are made? Can you make your own disc golf disc? These questions and other related information will be discussed throughout this article to provide disc golfers a unique knowledge of the sport that they love.
The Materials Needed to Make a Disc Golf Disc
In the early days of disc golf discs manufacturing, there were a lot of materials that were used. But now, in the modern era of the sport, a disc is usually made out of a certain type of plastic called polypropene.
Polypropene is a thermoplastic resin that has the ability to soften into a liquid when being heated and becomes hard again when cooled. These type of disc golf plastics also have the ability to be molded into a variety of shapes making it a perfect material for disc golf discs manufacturing process.
There are also other materials that are used to make disc golf discs including polyethylene, thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), and polyurethane plastics. Other manufacturers may have other disc golf material but thermoplastic resins are the most prominent in the industry due to the different benefits it offers.
For one, this type of plastic has a special reshaping ability, stability, and high-impact resistance. Furthermore, another factor that makes thermoplastic resin perfect for disc making is it’s harmless to the environment because it is recyclable and does not emit a bad odor and other toxic smells during the manufacturing process.
The Disc Golf Discs Making Process – Injection Moulding
Since we already know the materials used in the process of making a disc, it is now time to familiarize the process of injection molding. To make you fully understand the process, I will make it as simple as possible to the readers.
When a plastic is subjected to injection molding, it will form different chemical bonds called polymers. These different bonds involve different types of molecules which form a chain that determines the quality of the plastic after the molding process.
These plastics when heated by molding machines make the molecule weaker and turns the plastic into a liquid. This liquid can now be put in a molding tool which has the disc golf molds where it will cool down to make the polymer chain solidify again. The result is the plastic formed into a disc golf disc.
But before the actual process, it is important to note that the manufacturer first needs to come up and design a disc mold. This is where the different plastic materials are inserted to form a disc golf discs.
The Injection Molding Step-By-Step Process
The preparation of materials is done as the initial step. The compounding process will convert all the raw materials into pellet-looking plastic that will be used in the actual injection molding process. I will not elaborate on how the actual process works but it is usually done in the manufacturing area.
The next step is to measure the right amount of plastic pellets and is done by a manufacturing worker. The worker will then feed the materials into the injection molding machine. In order to keep a consistent result, the blend is processed by a 75 degrees cylinder for about 3 hours. This is done to increase the quality of the result or else there will be a lot of imperfections and impurities in the discs such as cracks among other things.
After the previous process, the next step is the color blend wherein the desired colors will be incorporated into the plastic. There will be one or two containers used on the machine depending on the design to get the right color effect of the plastic. The plastic and the color blend will then be put in the injection cylinder where it will be heated up to 220 degrees to form the disc.
In the injection cylinder, the pressure will match according to the specific molds and plastic used. This is where the amount of force is determine and how much is used to completely fill each mold without spilling.
When the pressure is reached, the molds are then cooled off and removed from the machine. The disc is then place on a ventilated surface for about 10 minutes. This is the time where the plastics will contract solidify its disc golf disc shapes. The excess plastic will be removed from the surface of the disc to get the most consistent shape after cooling
After that, the disc will now be put on a scale where it will be measured to determine if the weight is within the approved weight limit set by the PDGA. The weight measurement is printed under the disc.
The next step is quality control wherein each disc is inspected by the careful eyes of employees of the manufacturing company. All discs that fail to pass the quality set by the company will be separated from the good ones. This separates the good discs from the factory seconds, or “X-Outs”.
The final step is the graphics or stamping where the stamps will be hot stamped on the surface of the disc. An employee will calibrate the machine and stamp so that it will place foil perfectly on the surface of that specific mold/disc. In so doing, the employee creates multiple “Misprints” until the stamp is perfectly pressed onto the disc. Once calibrated properly, the employee places each disc on the stamp machine to stamp each disc.
The machine presses an extremely hot plate (that has the stamp design embossed on it) into foil into the disc. Essentially bonding the foil into the plastic of the disc.
After the disc is made, it is then packaged and sent to the disc retailers. The process of disc manufacturing is actually complicated compared to the steps I mentioned. I just want to show all the readers a summarized step-by-step guide on how the disc is made in a simple explanation.
Disc Golf Discs vs Frisbees
The sport of frisbee and disc golf will always be related to each other. The fact that there are some sports enthusiasts that often mistaken that a disc and a frisbee are exactly the same makes the two sports share similar properties. However, a disc and a frisbee are radically different in appearance and flight characteristics.
The disc golf disc which is designed to take flight and cover longer distances has a more complicated procedure in terms of manufacturing than how are frisbees made. With disc golf, the manufacturer needs to determine what type of discs they are making, whether its for a putter, midrange, or for distance drivers. They need to satisfy the requirements of this disc and meet the demands of the players. Therefore, manufacturing disc golf discs is more complicated compared to the frisbees found in our home.
The disc is an integral part of disc golf and as a practitioner, it is fun to familiarize yourself with how disc golf discs are made. Hopefully this article provides a lot of information on the most important equipment for disc golf.