TJ and Dave, point taken. Here are more technical details from Ian Anderson, an engineer for Easton.
* The alloys used for BBCOR designs are the same as those for previous regulations. We have bats using various 7xxx series alloys as well as fiber-reinforced composites for all price points.
* The new BBCOR regulation requires that the designs have a much higher barrel stiffness in order to reduce the trampoline effect seen on hollow bats. This allows the hollow bats to more closely approximate the performance of solid wood bats as that is the intent of the BBCOR regulation.
* We've adjusted the wall thickness throughout the barrel section to meet the new requirements while offering varying options to players. This translates to bigger barrels or lighter swing weights which allow different types of players to reach their maximum hitting power.
Years ago, I took a tour through Hoosier Bat Company in Valparaiso, Indiana. They (of course) claim to make a superior bat to the Louisville Slugger Bat, but due to politics, Louisville Slugger, being a large and powerful company has talked to the right people and positioned themselves as the sole provider of the MLB.
However one might feel about either company, I was impressed with HBC's 3 wood bat design, Ash/Hickory/Maple. This immediately came to mind when Charles mentioned maple splintering. I have nothing to support my assertion here, but, it seems that splintering would be minimized due to the bat's 3-piece design.
From the website: "patented three-piece wood bat, the WOODFORCE 2000. With ash in the handle, hickory in the sweet spot, and maple on the barrel end, this bat provides a solid sweet spot that will not flake, while retaining the same look and feel as a traditional all ash bat."
It's good that rules committees are recognizing the energy difference wrought by aluminum bats -- if for no other reason than safety. Pitchers are in real danger when high-energy metal bats are used. But engineers are always finding new ways to improve equipment, even in the Major Leagues. Proliferation of maple bats in the majors is now being recognized as a problem because shards of the maple bats are hitting players and are flying into the stands. Last year, Chicago Cubs outfielder Tyler Colvin was impaled by a maple bat that broke during a game. The bat split while Colvin was standing on third base and a piece of it pierced his chest near the heart.
I thought I would share this article I came across on the use of aluminum bats in college baseball. It includes links to tons of other articles on the use of materials in bats, comparisons of materials and history.
I like the way you think, Dave - a sports issue would be a very interesting read.
I am a big fan of baseball, but have never liked watching college ball, simply because of the bats. Why not let them use wood? Ideally, many of these athletes are hoping to go onto the pros - using wooden bats would give them more of an advantage when it comes time to see if they have what it takes to make it.
College hockey players use the same sticks as in the NHL - and those break all the time. What's the difference (other than the no fighting rule and the fact that they must wear full face masks)?
An issue on baseball would be cool, Dave, and I'm sure the engineering practices around the development of any sports equipment would spawn tons of compelling story fodder. While I can't say for certain in this particular case, I know that many sporting good equipment companies employ standard, off-the-shelf Finite Element Analysis (FEA) tools and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) programs as a regular part of the development effort. I recently wrote about such an effort at Adams Golf, to test and optimize the aerodynamics around golf clubs (http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=229035), as well as at Black Diamond (http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=230258), a maker of extreme hiking, ski, and snowboard gear. Check out their stories and feel free to relay yours as well as suggest any "sport story" areas of interest.
Given that this is an engineering site, I think a natural question is, how are they doing this? I imagine that the physics involved are quite complex - do the baseball bat manufacturers have any simulation tools at their disposal? If so, which ones? What kind of testing dp they do? And what other material options are available? I know there has been some controversy about the use of composite (graphite-woven/aluminum) bats at the high school and college levels. I also know that a number of different fiber-reinforced plastic composite bats are out there, although none of them seem to be allowed in competition (they are used as practice bats). I think there might be enough potential topics here for Design News to do a whole issue on baseball.
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