Development of Golf Shaft with Carbon Nanotubes and Marketing Strategy

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1. Introduction

Competitiveness of South Korea (Korea) has been raised by the IT industry, diligence, patriotism and so on. Regarding sports, many Korean golf players have made good results in major professional competitions. Despite of the incredible achievements by the golf players, Korea’s golf industry has many problems. It was reported that the domestic golf equipment market was reached to 2.7 trillion won at 2005 and the golf club market was estimated at 500 billion won. Moreover, it is expected that the market size will continue to increase.

However, domestic golf clubs have occupied less than 20% of the market. Despite having high production capacity and technologies, the domestic golf club companies have mainly focused on OEM basis without researches. As a result, only few Korean companies are well known in global market.

In this study, authors incorporate nanomaterials to golf shafts as high-end technology and suggest strategies to promote competitiveness through the nano-technology, effective planning and management for the domestic sports organizations.

2. Development of golf shaft with carbon nanotubes

The golf shafts have two kinds of types depending on materials, generally steel or graphite (carbon fibers). The density of steel shaft is about 1.7 g/cc (grams per cubic centimeter) which is much heavier than graphite shaft, about 1.0 g/cc. The most important characteristics  for golf shaft are flexibility, weight, torque (rotational force), and trajectory (portion of bending when thin part is pulled down with fixing the other part). Other characteristics of golf shaft are RSSR (Recommended Swing Speed Range), shaft tip diameter, and grip size.

Nanotechnology is defined as a technique consisting in the size of less than 100 nanometers (nm = 10-9m). Nanotechnology is recognized as the next generation core technology and the technology enables manipulating matters at the atomic level. It can replace most of the existing technologies and existing markets by overcoming the limitations of the existing materials. Moreover, it is expected to be able to create new industrial areas and expected to give incredible ramifications to economy and techniques.

One of the core materials of nanotechnology is a carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are electrically conductive, may have a characteristic of a semiconductor, and have a good thermal conductivity than diamond. The allowable current density per unit volume of carbon nanotubes is much higher than conventional metals and it has light weight because of its empty inside. Regarding mechanical properties, tensile strength of carbon nanotubes is superior to high strength steel alloy by ~20 times. Such excellent electrical, physical, and mechanical properties have been proceeding for many applications in large areas of industry. When carbon nanotubes are used in sports goods, revolutionary products can be produced with increased strength and reduced weight at the same time compared to conventional
products [9-15]. Based on the excellent properties of carbon nanotubes, the golf shaft developed with new nanocomposite materials can increase a distance and accuracy and can decrease the bending stiffness and torsional rigidity of the golf club shaft at the same time.This can improve product qualities and strengthen the competitiveness of domestic golf clubs.

As mentioned above, major characteristics that determine the performance of golf club shaft are the weight, bending stiffness, and torsional rigidity. These characteristics give significant impacts on the golf swing, impact feeling, distance and accuracy and determine performances of the golf players. When the carbon nanotubes applied to golf club shafts, following factors will determine the characteristics of the shaft. First, the amount of carbon nanotubes added to main substance determines the weight of the shaft. Typically, increased amounts of carbon nanotubes will reduce the weight of the shaft and will effectively increase the bending stiffness and torsional rigidity. But when the amount of carbon nanotubes is overwhelmingly large compared to main substance (e.g., stainless steel), it cause lost of main characteristics of the main material and which can lead poor performances as a composite material. Moreover, excessive weight reduction can cause unsteady golf swing, so appropriate adjustment of the amount added is necessarily important.

The degree of dispersion of carbon nanotubes in main substance is also an important factor that determines the characteristics of golf shaft. When the degree of dispersion is poor, then carbon nanotubes densities in certain portions of the shaft are not uniform and will not show uniform characteristics. Therefore, it will give bad influences to golf swing and finally reliability of the golf club will be decreased. Moreover, it can decrease the bending stiffness and torsional rigidity. Dispersion of carbon nanotubes is very important and appropriate control is required.

Finally, the selection of the main material is a significant factor in determining the characteristics of a golf shaft. Carbon nanotubes are an additive to be added to the main material such as graphite or stainless steel. Therefore the property of the main material is the major factor that determines the characteristics of the shaft.

Figure 1 shows the carbon fiber which is the conventional material for graphite golf shaft. The diameter of carbon fibers is tens of micrometers and it can be different for various purposes. As we can see from the figure, there are a lot of voids between the fibers and it can be filled with carbon nanotubes for better characteristics.

Development of Golf Shaft with Carbon Nanotubes and Marketing Strategy

Figure 2 is a scanning electron microscope image of carbon nanotubes grown by chemical vapor deposition method. The diameters of the carbon nanotubes are under few hundred nanometers.

Figure 2 is a scanning electron microscope

3. Cloud Core technology combines marketing theory

Technical aspects of golf equipments focused on the needs of professional golf players. However, the target has been changed to the various consumers by expansion of the golf market and the developments have become much scientific approach.

For Korean domestic golf club industry, they could not produce new products through scientific research and development, despite they have a high technical competence and good infrastructure. In order to solve the problem, direction and goal of researches and developments should be clear to strengthen the competitiveness. The domestic golf industry organizations have focused on the short-term profits and did not pursue in-depth scientific researches. This trend can be easily seen by reviewing history of domestic sports industry organizations. Therefore, it is needed to make long-term plans which are comprehensive and systematic to strengthen the competitiveness in golf
club markets.

In general, products applied new technologies cannot get attentions in market due to lacks of marketing, advertising, and public relation skills despite of its excellent performances. Development of technology and products alone has a lot of difficulties in market access and exploitation. Therefore, it is required to develop appropriate marketing skills for the products applied nanotechnology, although they show excellent properties than conventional products. The rational improvement of management and marketing skills for domestic organizations is required rather than just focusing on the improvement of product performances. For the purpose, golf clubs can be designed fitting the body of target people. This process of customized golf clubs can satisfy consumer demands. Moreover, the developed golf clubs can be proved by expert groups for promoting and advertising.

4. Conclusion

In this study, we suggested the design techniques for golf clubs applied nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes, according to the bending stiffness and the torsional stiffness of the golf club shaft to have the optimum conditions. Based on the excellent properties of carbon nanotubes, a golf shaft can increase performances of players. The major factors that determine the characteristics of golf club shaft are amounts and degree of dispersion of carbon nanotubes and type of main material. As a fusion study, we proposed marketing plans for the new technology golf shaft. We suggested a way to combine the new technologies of golf club shaft with managements, effective organization, and planning for marketing.

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