Cobra's new putter changes design possibilities by using 3D metal printing
While it may be surprising to some that Cobra is getting into making putters, that would be focusing on the wrong thing. As it turns out, Cobra’s new King Supersport-35 isn’t just a new take on the standard plumber’s neck, heel-toe weighted putter. Rather, it’s a new way to think about designing and manufacturing putters and all golf clubs.
The King Supersport-35 was conceived and created through the process of 3D metal printing. In 3D printing, objects are built by spraying layers of metal powder and binding agents on top of each other to form the structure. The Cobra King Supersport-35 putter, which is being offered in a limited run, is the result of Cobra’s new partnership with HP, makers of the MetalJet 3D printer and Paramtech, which has been engineering high-tech medical and industrial parts out of powdered metal processes (like metal injection molding) for nearly half a century. The advantages of 3D metal printing include the complexity of the part and the ability to repeat that complexity in a more time-efficient and cost-efficient way. It also makes a club better at key performance metrics like moment of inertia or stability on off-center hits. Something that would have required complicated combinations of multiple materials or detailed structures too difficult to cast now can be manufactured simpler, faster, smarter and better, said Mike Yagley, vice president of innovation and artificial intelligence at Cobra.
“Using metaljet printing we can create internal structures that allowed us to make a putter that has a purpose,” he said. “Because of this process we have a putter that has a 20 percent higher MOI than something of a similar shape and feel that’s not 3D printed.”
Others have pursued 3D-printed putters in the past, but largely in an experimental mode. Ping introduced a “VIP experience” 3D-printed putter five years ago and small manufacturer EV3D golf has touted the artistic elements of its 3D-printed designs for the last few years, Cobra’s team calls the King Supersport-35 the first commercial 3D-printed putter. The design is the result of dozens of iterations and thousands of test models over a development process of nearly two years. The pursuit was designed to construct a more effective putter.
“We looked at the putter and said we could use this technology to give somebody superior mass properties, really good feel, some dramatically good looks because a putter is something where looks play such an important role,” Yagley said, noting that the HP machines used to produce the putter are new to the industry and typically cost upwards of $400,000 each. “HP is really developing these machines along with the process at the same time with a vendor like Parmatech, and then they’ve had to pick somebody to develop parts for. We stuck our hands up and they were all in. So we’re continuing to work the process with them and in the meantime we made a commercial product.”
That product is the fairly recognizable shape of a plumber’s neck heel-shafted putter. It's comprised of a fully 3D printed metal body with an intricate lattice structure within the cavity that allows for increased perimeter weighting without the use of additional materials or weights. The head is printed from 316 stainless steel and then sintered at a high temperature to bind the metal and form the final head part. The head is precision milled for final precise shaping.
In addition, the King Supersport-35 uses an aluminum face insert that incorporates the staggered, descending loft feature found in SIK putters, the company that makes the putters being used by Cobra endorsee Bryson DeChambeau. SIK is partnering with Cobra on the King Supersport-35, which features a softer feeling face insert that uses the company's trademark four separate loft angles that descend from four degrees at the top of the putter face to one degree at the bottom of the face. The idea is that whether the stroke features a slight downward or a slight upward angle of attack the putter face will present the same loft to the ball at impact.
The King Supersport-35 comes in a standard 34-inch length with a 35-degree toe hang. It will be available in what the company calls “very limited quantities” at cobragolf.com ($399).