LA-based lacrosse company, StringKing is using 3D printing to revolutionise their production process and challenge market heavyweights.
Purchasing three MakerBot Replicator Z18 3D Printers, StringKing have been able to iterate on designs more quickly, allowing for several products to be developed at once. Whereas lacrosse manufacturers typically release a few heads in a year at most, StringKing is looking to set a new precedent by releasing a series of six in this timespan.
Dubbed the ‘fastest game on two feet’, lacrosse is a sport that rewards teams with the speed and agility to control the ball. In similar vein, StringKing are hoping their use of additive manufacturing will give them an advantage over their rivals.
Founded in 2011, the company spent its first two years innovating on the mesh netting that makes up the pocket on a lacrosse stick. Its first successful product was the Performance Mesh. During this design process, the product development team exhaustively tested and compiled research on how to string pockets with mesh for the best lacrosse heads. With this prior research to hand, StringKing were able to develop a better head in 2014 for its release the following year.
“We gained a lot of trust and support from players and customers because we came out with a really great product (the Performance Mesh) that all the other companies overlooked.,” said Mark Flibotte, StringKing’s Marketing Director. “We wanted to design a head and co-engineer that deign with everything we’ve learned from two years of pocket research.”
StringKing’s first involvement with additive manufacturing came with the development of this first lacrosse head, the Mark 1. Using an outside 3D printing service, StringKing were producing one prototype per week at a cost of around $450. Realising the limitations of this process, StringKing’s product development team found a new solution for its next set of heads.
The MakerBot Z18 printer was the chosen product due to its large build volume. StringKing were amazed with how quicker the process was and how much fine-tuning they were able to do with their new 3D printing solution. This also allowed the team to spend more time testing new ideas and designs.
“After we got the three MakerBots we were able to do three prints per twenty-four hours,” said Jake McCampbell, CEO and Co-founder. “With the MakerBots we are now going to launch six awesome heads in a one-year span. In order to do this we will have to print about 200 heads. This would have cost about $90,000 if we outsourced our printing and would have been so slow that I don’t think we would be able to launch six heads in one year. Launching six heads in one year is more than any lacrosse company has ever done before. We have done this without increasing any of our internal resources except for adding the three MakerBots.”
During the 2017 spring season, StringKing will release a family of six heads, each designed for a different style of play or position. The Mark 2V is tailored for midfield play, the Mark 2A for attacking players, the Mark 2F for faceoffs, the Mark 2T for transitional play, and the Mark 2D for defense. Meanwhile the final instalment of the series, the Mark JR, is designed for younger players.