How it’s Made: Promotional Ice Hockey Sticks
How are promotional ice hockey sticks made? By personalising ice hockey sticks with unique branding, you’re tapping into a sport that boasts of over 50 million fans worldwide. While there are many ways to custom design hockey sticks, every player from grass-roots to professional will tell you it’s all about the “feel”. So how have modern producers continued to innovate the process into making that “feel” just right? Check out how Ice Hockey sticks are made below
Materials used to make Ice Hockey Sticks
In order to get the best out of a player, the scope for customization has to be as broad as possible to accommodate for their uniqueness. Over the years the core material for creating sticks have developed with the game, so while some players still play with wooden and aluminium sticks, the majority are playing with composites.
These composites are primarily of graphite, a fine material woven from carbon, with some manufacturers reinforcing with Kevlar. As in bulletproof vest Kevlar.
Ice Hockey Shafts
The production process begins with constructing the shaft of the stick. In order to create the hollow shaft 15 sheets of graphite are layered in different directions, this creates a uniformly strong material that is molded by heat activated epoxy resin.
Once cooled and solidified, the shaft is put through a flex tester that measures the amount of pressure required to bend the body of the stick by an inch. Provided it is successful for the specifications of the model, the shaft is then moved on to have the blade attached.
Ice Hockey Blades
The blade begins production as a plastic core, wrapped in foam and layered with graphite. The foam absorbs the shock of slap shots with the puck while the graphite maintains the rigidity required for the rigors of a hockey match. The core is glued and clamped to the shaft and left to cool.
Once cooled the core is covered in a graphite sock, these run in a different grain to the core of the blade as do each subsequent layer that’s added after the sock. Creating this lattice of graphite grains generates the uniform stiffness required for the blade.
After this the core is covered in a plastic resin that permeates the fibres and binds them together, fortifying the blade to ensure there is little chance of shattering. Strips of graphite are added to the core to create the final blade shape for the template.
Customization of Ice Hockey Sticks being made
At this stage the graphite sticks head one of two ways: through an automated shaper for mass producing a single design, or to be custom shaped by hand.
A number identified wooden block is used to create the curve of the blade as it is moulded by a presser. The wooden block is key in matching the precise specifications of the player’s order. The presser also serves another purposes of bonding the graphite layers in the blade into a single unit and permanently fixes the blade to the shaft of the hockey sticks.
With a router the blade is cut to the specific profile requested, which is entirely up to the designer provided it abides by the NHL regulations of:
Max curve 19mm
Max height 72mm
Max length 300mm
With a final sand and buffer, the stick is dipped in urethane to give an even look that removes imperfections. A primer paint is applied by spray and the custom artwork is applied by a process of silk screening.
Silk screening is a process of applying a thin coat of paint by stencil one at a time, which when coupled with other colours can create a whole spectrum to work with. As each layer requires only a thin coat of paint they can be applied repeatedly without creating a grooving effect on the stick.
A final coat of urethane is applied and the hockey sticks are ready for the rink.