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As one of the UK's leading Hockey Equipment Specialists, here you'll find a comprehensive range of all the latest Composite Hockey Sticks, plus some Clearance Offers which are only available whilst stocks last.
One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘how much carbon is in this hockey stick?’ with the perception that more is better. That is far from the truth, so here will will shed a little light.
Firstly the quality of carbon (manufacturing point) is important. Toray (Japanese) Carbon is often considered the best, but Carbon from Germany, Scotland and South Africa (to name a few) are all high-quality. Sticks are usually made in Pakistan (with 5 factories dominating production) and most major brands will import Carbon into Pakistan to make sticks. Local made carbon is not usually as good. But it is difficult to know if a hockey brand uses imported carbon all the time.
Carbon fibres are a straight line material and so provide stiffness in a single direction. To provide stiffness in multiple directions the fibre can be woven into a multi-directional sheet (seen as an obvious weave in the sticks surface) or single direction sheets can be layered over each other to create the multi-directional stiffness.
40% of the weight of a composite stick comes from the resin within it. So a stick can’t be 100% carbon. However it can be claimed that 100% of the composite materials in a stick are carbon, although this may not give optimal strength so a micro-skeleton made from fibreglass and kevlar (aramid) is added by some manufacturers.
Carbon is stiff but brittle. The stiffness means that the energy created by the player when striking the ball – hit / slap – transfers to the ball and is not absorbed by the stick. Maximum energy transfer allowed by the FIH is 98%. But this stiffness means that the stick will not absorb energy on trapping / receiving so needs soft hands!
The brittleness of carbon means that if the fibres are broken (stick tackle / post impact) they will crack and the stick can or will fail. This is not a manufacturing fault, simply a reflection of the material.
Other materials can be used in conjunction with carbon to get a positive performance outcome. Special chemicals are used with paints and lacquers to get them to bend to the top layer of carbon and create high-quality graphics.
YOUNG PLAYER STATEMENT: Carbon reduces the flex of the stick and increases energy transfer, but if a young player cannot flex a fibreglass / low carbon stick because of low level strength, a high carbon percentage cannot increase hitting power.
Aramid fibres are another material used in the production of hockey sticks. Also known by their trade name of Kevlar they are a heat resistant, incredibly strong synthetic fibre. It was first used commercially in the 1970’s to replace the steel wires used to reinforce racing car tyres.
The threads are drawn from the molten plastic base and have such strength that when interwoven can be used to create bullet proof vests. In a hockey stick they add to the strength and durability of the stick, balancing the brittle nature of the Carbon with shock absorption and creating well bonded hitting surfaces. The weave of the Kevlar has to be carefully monitored so that resin can permeate the layers in the stick allowing for correctly bonded laminates. If a stick starts to come apart (delaminate) it is usually because the resin has not properly traveled through the layers during production, either due to fibres being too tight, resin impregnation being poor initially or the pressure used during production being incorrect.
The fibreglass described within any stick is exactly that, very fine (thin) glass fibres / filaments. Multiple filaments are combined to create a thicker fibre. This is then unwound from a spool (like a big cotton reel), dipped in a resin to make them super sticky and then laid out on a release paper (like grease-proof backing paper) to create single directional sheets of fibreglass. These sheets are then cut into smaller pieces and layered at different angles to create strength in multiple directions.
Whilst fibreglass is strong, it is not as brittle as carbon and therefore forms a fantastic base (micro-skeleton) which absorbs some energy because of its flexibility and over which the Carbon, Kevlar and Basalt can be layered to create high end performance sticks.