Every sport has that one piece of equipment no player can do without. In the case of badminton, it’s the racket. Storied in its evolution, the badminton racket is symbolic of how the sport has changed from one played in India to one that is a world spectacle today. So how is the racket made?
Making a badminton racket begins with the selection of the right material. The materials are often carbon, graphite, or aluminum. The next step is molding the material to form the badminton racket’s frame. The manufacturers then puncture holes along the frame to accommodate the strings. What comes next is the painting and stringing of the racket just before the finishing touches are made and the handle is attached.
Different manufacturers follow these steps to create the right badminton racket. Manufacturers generally follow these steps to create rackets under the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) Equipment Rules and Regulations.
Now, if you’re marveling at the craftsmanship of your racket, you’ll know what went into it. Each and every racket goes through a rigorous process in order to be guaranteed a certain quality. Take a look at our guides to see some of the differences in the different types of rackets.
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Read on to learn more about the badminton racket manufacturing process.
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What Are the Steps in the Process to Make a Badminton Racket?
There are several steps involved in the production of a badminton racket. There may be some differences depending on the manufacturer.
Nonetheless, the general steps in the manufacturing process of badminton rackets will include the ones listed in this section.
Making a badminton racket involves material selection, molding and shaping, perforation, painting and decal, and making finishing touches. Manufacturers like Li-Ning include product testing and theoretical research as part of the process. Quality assurance is also important for companies like Yonex, as shown towards the end of this BWF Development video featuring the company.
Let’s get into the steps in greater detail.
1. Choosing the Right Material
The manufacturing process begins with selecting the right material. The right material is crucial for the player to safely and surely strike the shuttlecock; it’s also a must if the racket is to be acceptable by BWF standards.
To be clear, the BWF Rules and Regulations on Equipment don’t mention materials. Be that as it may, the rules and regulations do say the following about what makes an acceptable badminton racket in competition:
- The racket needs to have a shaft that connects the handle to the racket’s head (where you find the stringed area).
- The head must bind the stringed area.
- The throat must link the shaft to the head.
In other words, any BWF-approved racket needs to be durable enough to retain its shape and absorb the impact of the shuttlecock during play. Aside from durability, the racket needs to be light enough so that the player can comfortably use it on the court.
With lightness and durability as prime traits for a racket, the following materials often make the cut:
2. Molding and Shaping
Once the material for a racket has been selected, a portion of that material makes it to the first part of the badminton assembly line — the mold. The person in that part of the assembly line measures the material before placing it in the mold for shaping.
According to the BWF’s Equipment Standards, the racket’s frame (the tip of the handle to the tip of the head) cannot go beyond 680 mm. For this reason, there has to be enough material for a racket to reach this length.
After the necessary measurements, the material makes its way onto the mold for shaping. The mold churns out what becomes the badminton racket’s frame. The worker at the assembly line polishes the frame in preparation for the next step.
3. Perforation for the Grommets
The grommets are the holes that the strings of the badminton racket go through. Because there are standards regarding the badminton racket’s strings, the spaces between the holes need to be uniform.
Holes are punctured along the periphery of the racket’s head which measures about 280 mm x 220 mm. The holes on one side need to be parallel with those on the other side to allow for uniform stringing, as per the BWF’s equipment regulations.
What comes after the creation of the grommets is painting. Paint and decal add a layer of aesthetics to the racket.
The process of adding decals has grown more efficient due to automation. This is seen in the BWF’s feature video on Yonex’s badminton racket production process. Multiple layers of paint become additions to an aluminum, graphite, or carbon racket that has been smoothed and polished.
5. Finishing Touch: The Grip
On its own, a badminton racket can already feel ergonomically sound at the first grip. Nonetheless, many manufacturers make it a point to add a layer of material to the grip. This is the final step in the manufacturing process.
The person at the finishing point of the assembly line adds the grip to the handle by winding material around it. The material used for the grip varies from company to company. In one of my posts, I mentioned that Yonex chooses polyurethane for its badminton rackets’ grips.
Once the grip is finished, so is the entire badminton racket!
How Long Does It Take to Make a Badminton Racket?
In a fully equipped badminton racket making factory, each step of the process may take between 10 and 30 minutes. Overall, this means that a racket can take around 40 minutes to 2 hours to make from start to finish. However, time must also be taken to ensure the quality of the racket, which can take an additional hour or more.
Automation has made the production of badminton rackets more efficient. Nevertheless, there are parts of the racket-making process that are still dependent on human intervention like stringing – which occurs after the racket is fully produced.
It’s safe to assume that racket-making doesn’t take too long, especially with the manufacturing capacities of many badminton companies. Information about the average time it takes to make an entire badminton racket is hard to come by. Nonetheless, there’s a lot of information about how long it takes to string a badminton racket. Stringing, on average, takes about 45 minutes, according to Racket Stringing Services in the UK.
The length of time it takes to string a racket can depend on several factors. One is the method. The manual method, as you can imagine, will take the most amount of time — even if you’re an expert. Machines for stringing are available and can shorten the time it takes to string.
In short, companies make badminton rackets in bunches, so you won’t be wrong in assuming that racket-making doesn’t take too long. At the very least this is the case for badminton companies.
When it comes to the less automated part of making a badminton racket which is stringing, it can take roughly 45 minutes provided you don’t do it manually.
How Has the Way a Racket Is Made Changed Throughout Time?
The badminton racket-making process has undergone its share of developments. The changes are apparent — mostly in the materials used along with the introduction of automated processes to make the production of rackets efficient.
Racket-making has changed in terms of the materials chosen for the production process. Though they were originally made from wood, materials like graphite, carbon, and aluminum have grown to be the materials of choice. In addition, badminton equipment companies like Yonex have moved from manual production to automated production.
The material for what used to be a badminton racket in the late 1800s was originally wood. Wood remained to be a mainstay in badminton games and courts from the invention of the game in the late 19th century until the early half of the 20th century.
Sometime in the 1950s, wood fell out of favor owing to its density and weight. The weight made playing badminton games strenuous. The clamor for a lighter material ushered in the introduction of metal rackets.
In 1966, Carlton, an English badminton equipment company that specialized in shuttlecocks, came out with the iconic Carlton 3.9. This groundbreaking badminton racket weighed 39 grams — much lighter than its wooden predecessors. According to the National Badminton Museum, it was the racket that “changed badminton”. It will forever be the first metallic mass-produced badminton racket in history.
Titanium was the material of the Carlton 3.9. Since then, the innovation gave rise to manufacturers trying other materials. As time passed, lightweight materials like graphite and carbon became the new gold standards for making badminton rackets.
Key Takeaway: Badminton Rackets Are the Products of Detailed Processes and Remarkable Craftsmanship
A lot of work went into the creation of the badminton racket you have right now. It’s the product of several steps starting with choosing the right material. The racket-making process culminates in the wrapping of the handle with material that keeps your hand happy.
More than the process that led to the creation of your badminton racket, you’ve got history to thank for its development. History has created for you a badminton racket that’s lightweight yet strikes the shuttlecock with the force you apply to it.
Think of this the next time you use your badminton racket on game day.
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