Tech Tuesday: The Axe Bat Just Got A Lot More Comfortable
In our last conversation with Hugh Tompkins, Baden’s Director of R&D, we discussed the technology behind our new HyperWhip Composite Cap, the industry’s first asymmetric, carbon fiber end cap designed for one-sided hitting. Today, we turn our attention to the other end of the bat, and the second major innovation debuting with our 2016 lineup.
It’s called Endogrid technology, and it’s enabling the smoothest, most comfortable swing the Axe Bat has ever had. We’ll let Hugh explain.
Q: What is Endogrid technology?
A: Simply put, it’s shock-absorbing material that we’ve built into the lower portion of the handle.
Q: What are its benefits?
A: Many, but the one players will notice right away is how much better it feels. The material has a lot of vibration-dampening properties. So it greatly reduces the amount of vibration felt by your lower hand and just gives a much more comfortable swing.
Q: What need did you see for it?
A: Well, for a while we’ve been talking about how we can reduce the weight of our knob. The less perimeter weight you have on a bat, the larger the sweet spot becomes (for more on that topic, see our earlier post about sweet spots). So we wanted to look at ways we could shave weight from our knob and get that perimeter weight on the handle side down a little bit. Using a softer, lighter material was the way we came up with to address that.
Q: How is it made?
A: Basically, we took the Axe Bat handle shape and cut into it, hollowed it out, until we had this skeleton framework. Then we used an overmold process where we took the skeleton frame of plastic, put it into another mold, and then filled it in with a second type of material. In this case, we used a soft, urethane material.
Q: Why the name — Endogrid?
A: If you melted away all the urethane, you would see a skeletal grid on the inside of the knob. That’s where the name came from — Endo, because the material is inside; grid, because there’s a grid frame giving it its shape and strength.
Q: How much lighter are Axe Bat handles with Endogrid technology?
A: The Endogrid knob is about 15% lighter than our non-Endogrid option.
Q: Does the urethane material wear out faster or lose its shape over time?
A: No, we tested that extensively during development. In fact, our very first Endogrid material was too soft. So we started playing around with different durometers of urethane and different toughnesses of urethane, and what we have now is a urethane that is actually more abrasion resistant than our TPU (hard plastic) portion of the knob.
Q: How did you test Endogrid?
A: We’ve got some great interns here and one of our favorite things to do this summer was hand them a bat and say, “Go drop this 5,000 times in the dirt.” With this knob, we’ve simulated at least two years worth of drops. It has held up quite well.
Note: We found one of those interns, Alec Wilson, on his next-to-last-day in the lab and talked to him about his experience testing Endogrid this summer. Wilson, a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University, was a starting outfielder on a high school team that won Washington’s big-school state championship in 2010. That’s to say he loves baseball, and knows a thing or two about the game.
“This is more comfortable in your hand,” he said of Endogrid. “You don’t notice the vibrations as much, and you still feel like you get enough leverage to swing it hard and keep good control of it. I like it.”
To test durability, Wilson said he took bat samples with Endogrid to several different baseball fields around Baden’s corporate headquarters and simulated the range of flips, throws and tosses that regularly occur in games and practices. He picked a variety of surfaces, from grass to dirt, even gravel, noting each toss in his head, stopping every 100 throws to record his progress. He did that for hours. Workers sometimes wandered by to ask what he was doing, throwing a bat around, alone, for no apparent reason.
“The most I did in one day was 500,” Wilson said. “Took me about 2-1/2 hours.”
Just for fun, and at our request, he demonstrated one such flip in the batting cage:
Q: Which of the 2016 Axe Bats come with Endogrid?
A: We’re launching this technology on our Avenge series for baseball (L140C for BBCOR, L141C for senior youth, and L142C for youth) and fastpitch (L150C), but it’s also on the BBCOR-certified Element HyperWhip L138D.
All of those bats are up now for pre-order with availability starting Oct. 6. If you have questions about Endogrid that weren’t answered above, let us know by leaving them in the comments.by