About a decade ago, I was in Ft. Worth, Texas, at the former Nike Golf headquarters, The Oven. I was touring the facility when we came upon a 3-D printer. It was the first time I'd ever seen one, and situated near it was a prototype head that Nike had printed using the equipment. I asked my tour guide that day if he thought someday the company would be able to print heads that golfers would actually use. He was hopeful, but that was long on the horizon.
Then, in 2018, I began working with Phillip Lapuz, head man at Kronos Golf, after he approached me with the incredible opportunity to design a custom, 3-D printed putter. It's my gamer to this day and probably will be for life. After all, it's meant for me. Even still, it seemed clear that 3-D printing equipment for the masses was probably still some years away.
And I was wrong. The time is now, and Cobra Golf is the company to do it.
Cobra Golf has announced its first 3-D printed product, the King Supersport-35 putter, which has been developed in a collaboration between Cobra and teams at Parmatech and HP, whose Metal Jet 3-D printing technology was used to make the limited-edition putters. The Supersport-35 has a fully 3-D printed metal body, printed using 316 stainless steel, with a unique lattice structure designed to distribute weight and maximize moment of inertia for a blade-shaped head.
Adding to the collaborative nature of the putter, Cobra golf worked with Sik Golf -- the putter manufacturer of choice for Bryson DeChambeau -- to bring in a face insert with their Descending Loft Technology to deliver consistent roll.
By using 3D printing, the Cobra engineers could speed up the development process with rapid prototyping that wouldn't otherwise be possible with traditional manufacturing methods. In an eight-month span, Cobra had created 35 different design iterations.
“During the development of the King Supersport-35 Putter, we saw immediate benefits from this process, including design freedom, rapid design iteration, and high-quality parts that meet our economic demands,” said Jose Miraflor, Vice President of Marketing, Cobra Golf. "3D printing is accelerating design innovation, and this breakthrough putter will help usher in a new era for the sporting equipment industry at large.”
The end result was an oversized blade shape with a plumber's neck design that saves weight from the front of the putter with the help of the Sik Golf aluminum face insert and repositions it in the heel and toe to dial in feel. The Sik Descending Loft design has loft zones in one-degree margins from 4 degrees down to 1 degree at the bottom of the face to create consistent launch conditions regardless of strike position and stroke style.
After the printing, the metal was sintered to make the final part. Then the surfaces of the putter were CNC milled to dial-in aesthetic pieces and finalize the putter.
And this is just the beginning. The Cobra-HP partnership has led to a longer-term product roapmap, with two more 3D-printed products coming to market in 2021.
The Cobra Golf King Supersport-35 will be offered in limited quantities online starting Nov. 20 for $400 each. It is only available in 34-inch length for right-handed golfers with a lightweight Lamkin Sinkfit Smart Grip.