Chp 14 - Chapter 14 Materials for sports 14.1 The...

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14.1 The revolution in sports products Within a relatively short period of time, say one gen- eration, sport has come into remarkable worldwide prominence; in the wake of this phenomenon, inno- vative and highly specialized industries have emerged. Athletic sports, irrespective of the particular form of competition, involve the application and transmission of force and the expenditure of energy and, as a natu- ral consequence, one of the attendant trends is to take advantage of the latest developments in materials sci- ence and engineering and to use the latest generation of new materials for sporting artefacts such as rackets, golf clubs, skis, vaulting-poles, etc. Fortuitously, paral- lel long-term activities in laboratories of the aerospace industries, among others, have helped to provide and sustain a basic armoury of versatile new materials: it is now generally appreciated by the viewing public that these materials have sport-transforming capabilities. (Indeed, their introduction has sometimes led to urgent reappraisal of the rule book.) With their aid, a human can kick, throw or strike a ball farther, cleave air or water at greater speed and, in the event of the occa- sional mishap, survive with less risk of personal injury. In some sports, traditional materials hold sway and there are few material changes. In others, new materi- als and designs appear with bewildering rapidity, being driven by the competitive spirit of the sports equip- ment industry and competitors alike. With this dynamic background in mind, we have emphasized principles wherever possible. Also, rather than attempting to encompass sports such as automobile and yacht racing, which involve extremely large financial outlays, we have focused upon the more individual sports; that is, upon sports which engage both professional and ama- teur and which are essentially personal and physical. This restriction still leaves an extremely broad arena of sporting activity, so we have concentrated on certain items of sports equipment which provide an insight into the processes of engineering design and manufac- ture; topics include a revolutionary polymer-moulding technique (tennis racket), bending stiffness and flexure (golf club), energy storage and transfer (archery bow), joining problems (bicycle frames), duplex steel com- posites (fencing foils), durability at low temperatures (snowboard bindings) and shock absorption (safety helmets). The vital interplay between structure and properties will be self-evident. Time and time again, ultimate commercial success has depended upon a pre- cise identification of crucial material properties during the design and development stage. As a preliminary, we have taken this opportunity to describe the structure and properties of wood. Wood provides a benchmark for alternative materials in sport and many mimic its cellular structure. In the more gen- eral context of engineering materials, wood remains extremely important in tonnage and particularly volu- metric terms. Wood has always been, and remains, the most widely used material for
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