NOTE: This is an ongoing project and there are many improvements that have been made to the design. The rubber protector you see on the disc right now was just a quick fix to stop the edge from splintering. The plastic edge that will be added to the final design will smoothly blend into the rest of the disc.
I began my internship at the Polymeric Composites Laboratory (PCL) in the summer of 2012. The first Frisbee disc was created as a simple
project demonstrating carbon fiber manufacturing processes for a group of students touring the lab. The group and others were enthused with the idea. I realized that something bigger could become
of this. I spent a lot of time experimenting and looking at the possibilities of what I could accomplish.
Part of what you saw in the video was the production of the prototypes made with an inexpensive silicone mold. The first steps are to cut the material and mix the resin. Then each sheet was placed in the mold one at a time and wetted with the resin using a roller. After all the layers were positioned, bagging materials were placed over the mold to allow the extra resin to flow out of the mold.
The mold was then placed inside a vacuum bag to compress the material and then allowed to cure at room temperature. Because of the flexibility of the silicone mold the disc was easily released from the mold.
This process is currently somewhat time consuming and the finish quality is not as good as I would accomplish with a metal mold. For the next stage in production, I need your help to make this project into a reality.
The money raised from this project will be used to buy
supplies and materials and create the final aluminum molds for the discs. Additional money raised will go into further
R&D for the discs so that they can be a top quality product. Anything left over will go to further my
education and to create and sell more discs.
A working prototype like you saw in the video has been completed using an inexpensive silicone mold. For a full scale production, a better quality aluminum mold and manufacturing method will be needed. I am already in contact with an experienced carbon fiber shop that has the tooling we need in order to start production of the discs. They are equipped with a CNC fabric cutter, mills, and a 6x6x7 curing oven. Based on whatever demand, we are prepared to start production accordingly. Please keep in mind that I am still making changes and tweaks to the design to make the discs both look and fly better.
The manufacturing plan will be basically as follows. The mold will be created out an aluminum block in a CNC mill. The pre-impregnated carbon fiber fabric will be cut and then placed inside the mold and heated and pressurized in the curing oven. This process produces higher quality and better looking products than what I have created so far. After the disc is finished another mold will be used to create the plastic outer edge that will both protect the edge and add the neccesary weight to improve its flight. The liquid plastic will be poured into the mold with the carbon disc until it solidifies. This will allow a smooth transition between the carbon fiber and the plastic protective edge for a better look and aerodynamics.
Risks and challenges
No project is without hiccups, and I plan on being quick on my feet to take care of any issues that may come up. The manufacturing processes for the carbon fiber mold have been tried and tested for a similar project, so few issues are expected there. There may be several iterations to decide on a final mold shape for the plastic edge, but the process will be significantly less costly than the metal mold for the carbon fiber. As the project matures, I expect to make improvements to the design and also make changes based on your feedback. Feel free to ask questions and make suggestions free from criticism. I appreciate all the help that I get.
No. At least, I really hope not. I plan on running plenty of tests to make sure these discs will take a good beating. Carbon fiber is pretty tough stuff and but I definitely don't want to put anything out there that is gunna break the first time it hits a tree. My biggest concern was the edge splintering, which has been solved by adding plastic to the edges of the discs.
Not at this time. PDGA has some rather strict guidelines to their discs, with the biggest problem being the flexibility requirements. UPA has less strict guidelines, but involve a testing fee that amounts to around $1000. If there is enough desire for the UPA approval, and enough money from the project, I will consider taking those steps.
I am still making changes to the design of the disc golf version and so I can't say for certain at this time. Even the smallest change in the dimensions can dramatically change how it flies. Once I have a few good designs, I will test them and select the best one. I am aiming to make the disc a fairly stable distance driver, however, things could change, especially according to what you guys want.