Title:
Bent tip composite golf shaft
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Apparatus for making a golf club shaft with a bent angular tip using a straight and non-flexible main shaft body mandrel and a secondary tip mandrel disposed at an angle therewith.



Inventors:
Francis Jr., Fenton A. (Sarasota, FL, US)
Piotrowski, Peter J. (Arlington, TX, US)
Application Number:
10/310836
Publication Date:
05/01/2003
Filing Date:
12/06/2002
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
156/446, 156/448, 156/449, 156/425
International Classes:
A63B53/10; B29C70/34; (IPC1-7): B65H81/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FISCHER, JUSTIN R
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
WELSH FLAXMAN & GITLER LLC (McLean, VA, US)
Claims:
1. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a two-part mandrel sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft, for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip said mandrel having two separate sections of elongated material; a first of said sections being further defined as a first straight, non-flexible main body section and a second of said sections being a straight non-flexible tip section, said tip section able to be disposed at a pre-selected angle with respect to said main body section.

2. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a two-part mandrel being sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft, for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip; said mandrel having two separate mandrel sections of elongated material; said sections including a first straight, non-flexible main body section and a second straight, non-flexible tip section, said sections each having non-connected ends; and a permanent elbow at the interface of and abutting said ends of said separate sections.

3. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a mandrel sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft, for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip; said mandrel having a straight and non-flexible main body section and a flexible tip section; said mandrel being formed of a one-piece, unitized, elongated solid bar of material; said flexible tip section being able to be disposed at a pre-selected angle with respect to said main body section.

4. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said solid bar of material is metal.

5. The apparatus of claim 3 wherein said solid bar of material is solid, non-hollow rubberized silicone.

6. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein said main body mandrel is metal and said tip mandrel is metal.

7. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a two-part mandrel sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft, for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip; said two-part mandrel having two separate sections, including a straight and non-flexible main body mandrel and a flexible tip mandrel; said main body mandrel being metal and said tip mandrel being solid, non-hollow rubberized silicone; said main body mandrel and said tip mandrel having non-connecting ends in abutment to each other, said flexible tip section being able to be disposed at a pre-selected angle with respect to said main body mandrel.

8. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a two-part mandrel sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft; said two-part mandrel having two separate sections, including a straight and non-flexible main body mandrel and a flexible tip mandrel; said main body mandrel being metal and said tip mandrel being flexible metal; said main body mandrel and said tip mandrel having non-connecting ends in abutment to each other; said flexible tip section being able to be disposed at a pre-selected angle with respect to said main body mandrel.

9. Apparatus for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft with a bent tip comprising: a two-part mandrel sized to the length of a conventional golf club shaft for molding a rigid, composite golf club shaft; said two-part mandrel including a straight and non-flexible main body mandrel and a flexible tip mandrel; said main body mandrel and said tip mandrel being formed of two separate sections of elongated material and further including a scrim wrap overlapping said main body mandrel and said tip mandrel; said main body mandrel and said tip mandrel having non-connecting ends in abutment to each other; said flexible tip section being able to be disposed at a pre-selected angle with respect to said main body mandrel.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] The present invention is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/436,242, filed Nov. 9, 1999 titled BENT TIP COMPOSITE GOLF SHAFT.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates to composite golf shafts and in particular to a combination of methods for molding the tip of a golf shaft at a precise angle.

[0003] Traditionally golf club shafts have been made straight tapering from a butt section to a narrower tip section which is inserted into the hosel of a golf club head. Typically the butt section includes a grip to enable a golfer to swing the golf club. With the advent of sophisticated molding techniques, it is no longer necessary for the golf club shaft to be at a straight angle. For example, it is well known for putters to have the tip portion of the shaft bent at a precise angle in order to position a golfers hands in a desired location. Similarly, in my U.S. Pat. No. 5,931,741, a hosel-less golf club is disclosed using a single bent shaft, the bend being such that the shaft may enter the club face at various locations and vary between a minimum of five degrees to a maximum of 180 degrees depending in part upon the loft angle of the golf club head.

[0004] Other patents of interest are U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,166,320 to Onions and 5,255,914 to Schroder, both of which show a wood type golf club head with a hosel and having a bent steel shaft tip which is angularly offset from the main elongated shaft portion of the club.

[0005] U.S. Pat. No. 5,384,085 to Houser et al relates to a method of making a bent graphite golf shaft using a mandrel which is flexible over its entire length. Col 9, lines 12 and 13.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 5,465,959 to Cheng relates to a golf club shaft made of a composite material such as carbon graphite fiber and having a bent front section connected to a bent shaft section using a uniform diameter link to couple the parts together. The bent section is formed by wrapping a core with carbon fiber fabric and then thermally pressing it to form the desired shape.

[0007] U.S. Pat. No. 5,409,220 to Lombardo shows a putter type golf club head having a bent shaft with the tip offset approximately 20 degrees from the main portion of the shaft. The patent discloses the shaft as being a metal tube substantially hollow between its ends.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] The present invention relates to a carbon fiber graphite composite shaft having a bent tip and to a method of making the same. Carbon fiber graphite composite golf shafts are known to be manufactured using a variety of fibers including carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar and the like with carbon fiber being the predominate fiber used. The material is commonly called prepreg or prepreg composite. In a preferred embodiment of manufacturing a bent composite shaft for golf clubs, a mold is fabricated having dimensions specified by the size of the shaft. Two mandrels, a tip mandrel and a main body mandrel, are used with a conventional bladder. The tip mandrel is inserted into the tip end of the bladder at the desired angle, and the main body mandrel is inserted into the opposite end of the bladder, allowing approximately a two inch gap separating the two mandrels inside the bladder at the point where the angle is to be molded in the shaft. The prepreg composite material is then wrapped over the entire bladder and mandrel assembly. The material wrapped over the bend angle area preferably is an intermediate modulus high strain prepreg material or other high strain material such as glass fiber for added strength in this section where additional stresses will occur when a golf ball is struck. All of the wrapped assembly is placed in the mold and compression molded to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 7-10 minutes or up to 2.5 hours at 250 degrees F. The formed shaft is removed from the press and the mandrels removed. The shaft surface is prepared for finishing, light sanding or other abrasive treatments, as required. Additionally paint may be applied.

[0009] An alternate method of producing a composite bent shaft uses a single long one piece flexible mandrel which may be made of flexible silicone or rubberized material, flexible wound spiral metal or flexible solid metal. Alternately the above two methods may eliminate the use of an intermediate bladder. When the bladder is not used, the prepreg material is wrapped directly over the mandrels. A mandrel puller will be required to assist in removing mandrels if a bladder is not used.

[0010] Still another method contemplates using a permanent elbow connection such as a plastic or rubberized piece that would fit between the two separate tip and main body mandrels which fills the gap between the two mandrels. This elbow connection used without a bladder, permanently remains inside the shaft after the mandrels are removed.

[0011] Still other alternate methods includes a mechanical connection between the two mandrels including a screw or mortise and tenon connection for holding the mandrels together.

[0012] Still another method is to butt the two ends of the two mandrels up against each other at the desired angle.

[0013] Still another method uses a scrim wrap to connect a solid or flexible tip mandrel to a main body mandrel.

[0014] An object of the present invention is the provision of a composite golf club shaft having a bent or angular tip section and methods of making the same.

[0015] Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description when viewed in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which set forth certain embodiments of the invention

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1 is a sectional view of a first embodiment of the present invention.

[0017] FIG. 2 is a sectional view of a second embodiment of the present invention.

[0018] FIG. 3 is a sectional view of a third embodiment of the present invention.

[0019] FIG. 4 is a sectional view of a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

[0020] FIG. 5 is a sectional view of a fifth embodiment of the present invention.

[0021] FIG. 6 is a sectional view of a sixth embodiment of the present invention.

[0022] FIG. 7 is a sectional view of a seventh embodiment of the present invention.

[0023] FIG. 8 is a sectional view of a eighth embodiment of the present invention.

[0024] FIG. 9 is a sectional view of a ninth embodiment of the present invention.

[0025] FIG. 10 is a sectional view of a tenth embodiment of the present invention.

[0026] FIG. 11 is a sectional view of a eleventh embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0027] The detailed embodiments of the present invention are disclosed herein. It should be understood, however, that the disclosed embodiments are merely exemplary of the invention, which maybe embodied in various forms. Therefore, the details disclosed herein are not to be interpreted as limited, but merely as the basis for the claims and as a basis for teaching one skilled in the art how to make and/or use the invention.

[0028] The present invention is directed to golf club shafts having a bent tip structure of the type disclosed in my U.S. Pat. No. 5,931,741 for a hosel-less golf club with a single bent shaft. The patent describes a golf club where in a golf club shaft is bent so as to be directly inserted into the ball striking face adjacent to heel of the golf club head to totally eliminate the need for a shaft hosel. The shaft enters the club face at various locations and the bend of the shaft may vary between a minimum of five degrees to a maximum of 180 degrees depending upon the loft angle of the particular club head. The present invention describes a number of methods and structures used therewith for producing golf club shafts of composite or graphite material suitable for use with the golf club described in the above patent.

[0029] In a preferred method for making a golf club shaft, a mold is formed sized to the length and outside diameter of the shaft dimensions. It will be appreciated that the butt end of a shaft generally has a greater diameter and gradually tapers toward the tip. In a preferred method, composite prepreg material is wrapped around an inner mandrel, which may or may not include an inner bladder. The wrapped mandrel is placed in the mold and the shaft is cured under suitable heat and pressure. Once the shaft materials are cured, the mandrel is removed and the shaft is then finished by sanding, coating, painting or the like. It will be appreciated that the present invention is equally applicable with various shaft fibers including carbon graphite, Kevlar, fibreglass, and similar materials with a thermoset or thermoplastic resin matrix and may use well known manufacturing methods such as the lay up method, balloon molding, filament winding, autoclave molding, compression molding and the like. The shaft fibers may be oriented in a variety of angular configurations depending upon the shaft characteristics sought.

[0030] In producing composite single bent graphite shafts in accordance with the present invention preferably the overall length of the finished shaft would be approximately 44 inches with a weight of 75 grams, for example. The tip end would be made stiffer and formed preferably with an outside diameter in the range of 0.335 or greater inches and disposed at a tip angle of approximately 20 degrees. The butt end has a outside diameter of approximately 0.60 inches with the outside diameter of the shaft gradually tapering between the smaller tip section to the larger butt section. However, it will be appreciated that the present invention is equally applicable to golf club shafts which do not gradually taper but include various configurations such as bulges, parallel sections, reduced radiuses and so forth.

[0031] Referring to FIG. 1, a mandrel assembly 10 for making a composite graphite shaft with a bent tip is shown including a tip mandrel 12 a main shaft body mandrel 14 and a covering bladder 16. A gap 18 exists between the tip mandrel 12 and the main shaft body mandrel 14 with no connection therebetween. This enables the tip mandrel 12 to be placed at a desired angle with the main shaft body mandrel 14. In this embodiment the main shaft body mandrel 14 is straight and non-flexible and made of solid steel. The tip mandrel 12 is shown as straight and non-flexible solid steel, but it maybe flexible metal or even a flexible silicone or rubberized material. It will be appreciated that the mandrel assembly 10 is wrapped with prepreg material 17 which actually forms a shaft during the curing process. The material is formed in a mold and cured as described hereinabove in the background of the invention. When the cure is finished, the tip mandrel 12 and the shaft mandrel 14 may be withdrawn from opposite ends of the completed shaft having a bent tip.

[0032] FIG. 2 illustrates a unitized, one piece mandrel 20 made of silicone rubberized material having a non-flexible, main body section 22 and a flexible, bent tip section 24 to form the desired shaft configuration. In this embodiment the mandrel 20 is removed by pulling it out of the butt end of the cured shaft. The flexibility of the mandrel allows the tip section 24 to straighten as pulling pressure is applied and be easily removed.

[0033] FIG. 3 illustrates a mandrel assembly 30 in accordance with present invention using a straight and non-flexible tip mandrel 32, a straight and non-flexible main shaft body mandrel 34 and a shaped permanent elbow 36. In this embodiment the permanent elbow 36 preferably is made of a rubber or plastic material and inserted between a steel tip mandrel 32 and steel main shaft body mandrel 34. After mandrels 32 and 34 are wrapped with prepreg composite material 38 and cured the mandrels 32 and 34 are removed leaving the permanent elbow 36 in place to add to the rigidity of the shaft at the point of the bend.

[0034] FIG. 4 shows another variation of a mandrel assembly 40 including a straight and non-flexible main shaft body mandrel 42 of steel, a flexible tip mandrel 44 which may be silicone or rubberized material, flexible solid metal or flexible wound spiral metal. In this embodiment a scrim wrap 46 is provided over the ends of each mandrel 42 and 44 forming a connection therebetween. The assembly may be covered with a bladder, and wrapped with prepreg material and cured as with previous embodiments. The mandrels 42 and 44 are removed from the shaft after it is cured.

[0035] FIG. 5 illustrates still another mandrel assembly 50 using a straight and non-flexible steel main shaft body mandrel 52 and a tip mandrel 54 of solid flexible metal. The inner ends of the mandrel 52 and the mandrel 54 abut each other and then may be covered with a bladder wrapped with prepreg material and cured to form a bent tip shaft.

[0036] FIG. 6 shows yet another embodiment of a mandrel assembly 60 using a straight and non-flexible steel main body mandrel 62 and a flexible tip mandrel 64 which uses a connector screw 66 to make a solid connection between the mandrels. As with the previous embodiment the mandrels may be covered with a bladder, wrapped and cured.

[0037] FIG. 7 illustrates a further embodiment of a mandrel assembly 70 including a straight and non-flexible main shaft body mandrel 72 and flexible mandrel 74 wherein the tip of the main body mandrel 72 and the adjoining tip of the flexible mandrel 74 are connected by a mortise and tenon joint 76. The assembly may include a bladder which is wrapped by prepreg and cured.

[0038] FIG. 8 shows an embodiment of a mandrel assembly 80 including a straight and non-flexible, solid main shaft body mandrel 82 and a flexible wound spiral metal tip 84. The assembly 80 may be covered with a bladder wrapped and cured. It will be appreciated that the flexible wound spiral metal tip 84 may be used with and without a connection to the main shaft mandrel 82 including a gap, a butt against connection, a screw connection, a scrim wrap connection or a mortise and tenon connection of the type described hereinabove.

[0039] FIG. 9 shows another embodiment of a mandrel assembly 90 using a straight and non-flexible main body mandrel 92 and a flexible tip mandrel 94 made of silicone rubberized material. The ends of each mandrel 92 and 94 abut against each other and may be wrapped with a bladder.

[0040] FIG. 10 illustrates a mandrel assembly 100 using a single solid metal, flexible, rod bent into a straight and non-flexible main body mandrel 102 and a flexible tip mandrel 104. It will be appreciated that the flexible metal mandrel is bent to form a bent tip shaft.

[0041] FIG. 11 shows a mandrel assembly 110 using a single piece of wound spiral metal to form a main body mandrel 112 and tip mandrel 114.

[0042] It will be appreciated that when a bladder assembly is used in any of the above described embodiments, the prepreg material is wrapped over the bladder before being placed in a mold and cured. If a bladder is not used, the prepreg material is wrapped directly over the mandrel before being placed in a mold and cured.

[0043] While various preferred embodiments have been shown and described, it will be understood that there is no intent to limit the invention by such disclosure, but rather, is intended to cover all modifications and alternate constructions falling within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined in the appended claims.