Golf pros are testing a new
type of golf ball from Nike that flies off their drivers at speeds up to 4 mph
faster than the best balls previously available.
The new materials technology
used in the core of the ball also allows controlled spin rates off the tee
resulting in longer and straighter drives. Spin control is also better for
short iron shots.
In the new technology,
thermoplastic, moldable engineering plastic replaces thermoset rubber.
"About every ten years there
is a major advance in golf ball technology," says James de Garavilla, the
global technical lead on the new technology. About ten years ago, solid rubber
cores replaced wound rubber thread as the dominant golf ball core technology.
Nike says the new technology,
which is based on a new type of highly neutralized ionomer resin, represents
the next game changer.
"This collaboration between
DuPont scientists and Nike golf ball engineers has resulted in the next
revolution of golf ball development," says Rock Ishii, product development director
at Nike Golf.
De Garavilla said that the
new DuPont HPF resin is based on an advanced ionomer technology in which acid terpolymer
resins are fully neutralized together with high levels of organic acids
creating metal salts in a reactive process.
The new highly cross linked resin
allows more precise layering through injection molding. "Layering the material can precisely control
the balance between resiliency and compression not common with thermoset
materials," says de Garavilla. "Greater material consistency and homogeneity
results in greater ball control."
Golf balls are typically made
with two to five layers of different materials. Other types of less neutralized
ionomers-marketed as Surlyn
-are used as covers, mantles, and intermediate layers. The new Nike
golf ball represents the first use of the advanced ionomer technology -
marketed as DuPont HPF
- in a golf ball core.
In addition to advanced
performance, the resin technology also offers the potential for improved
sustainability in golf as up to 40 percent of the core material's weight is
from renewably sourced content.
The new technology will be
offered in two different balls: the 20XI-S, which offers tour-level spin, and
the 20XI-X, which offers tour-level distance.
The new golf balls will be
sold in retail stores in April 2011.
Jon Kemp, a global marketing
manager at DuPont, said the new ionomer technology may also be used in flexible
films for the medical and industrial markets.