Edition By: www.hockeystick.com.cn
From: M-FACTORY INDUSTRY
Over the last two decades, there have been tremendous advances in the material technology used to create hockey sticks. The vast majority of sticks are made with one (or a combination) of the following materials:
Wooden sticks are usually constructed by laminating multiple types of wood into a high quality plywood, then coating the stick and blade with thin plastic or fiberglass. Some manufacturers use fiberglass as a laminate between wood layers. Today in the NHL, only a handful of players still use wooden sticks, including Pavol Demitra, Paul Stastny, Adrian Aucoin and Fredrik Modin.
The main advantage that wooden sticks enjoy today is their relatively low cost. Few wooden sticks cost more than $40 per copy, compared to $200+ for some composite varieties. This makes them a popular choice by younger and amateur players. Wooden sticks also enjoy a reputation of having a good "feel" compared to aluminium or titanium choices. The main disadvantage that wooden sticks suffer from is the relative irregularity and poor durability of the wooden construction. Wood has a tendency to warp, and over time its flex and stiffness properties will change. Additionally, being a natural material, wood also creates variations in production (even between identical patterns), and it cannot be made as "responsive" as certain composite materials (which decreases velocity and accuracy on wrist and snap shots).
It is a common misconception that, for most players, aluminium or composite sticks make for harder slap shots. As it relates to slap shots specifically, wooden sticks have very similar properties to composite sticks, and for most players there will be very little difference in velocity between wood and other materials. It should also be noted that the short list of players with the hardest slap shots in NHL history (Bobby Hull, Al MacInnis, Al Iafrate, among others) all used wooden sticks; however, it must also be noted that these players' careers ended before composite sticks became prevalent (or in the case of Hull, before the advent of aluminium sticks).
Aluminium sticks were the first non-wood sticks to appear. Most aluminium sticks consist of a shaft made of an aluminium alloy and a wooden blade or composite blade, which is held in the shaft by glue and the compression of the shaft itself. There was a time when a majority of NHL players used aluminium sticks, but today around 1% of NHL players use them.
The main advantage aluminium sticks enjoy is their unparalleled durability. It is fairly rare for an aluminium shaft to be broken or damaged, even at the professional level, and since the blades can be easily replaced, a shaft will typically last for a relatively long period of time. Aluminium sticks will not suffer wear or warping like a wooden stick, and they can be manufactured with a great deal of consistency in flex and weight. The biggest disadvantage of aluminium sticks is their heavy or hard "feel", which is a result of the relative hardness of the metal and the imprecise joining of the stick and blade.
Fiberglass, along with the traditional wood, was the first composite stick material, being added as laminate or coating to wooden sticks. Manufacturers have experimented with 100% fiberglass ice hockey sticks, but they suffered from poor "feel" and poor durability and never really caught on. Currently, there are no 100% fiberglass ice hockey sticks being manufactured.
Today, fiberglass is most commonly used as a composite with other materials, such as wood, graphite, or kevlar. Generally speaking, a higher density of material was needed in order for the players to perform.
Graphite (Carbon fiber)
Graphite has become by far the most popular building material for sticks used in the NHL, and it is growing rapidly in popularity for amateur and recreational players. Carbon fiber sticks were originally sold as shafts alone, much like their aluminium counterparts. "One piece" sticks, which consist of a single piece shaft and blade, have become the predominant type.
Carbon fiber sticks have become so popular due primarily to the way they combine features of wooden and aluminium sticks. They offer the classic "feel" and performance of the best wooden varieties, and the manufacturing consistency and precision of aluminium sticks. They can also be manufactured with extraordinarily precise "flex patterns" which can aid in the power and accuracy of wrist and snap shots, and their manufacturing process makes it extremely simple to add any number of different materials and features which can dramatically change the properties of the stick (a good example of this being the silicon injections made in certain high-end sticks that are claimed to further enhance their "feel").
Their main disadvantage is their high cost coupled with their relatively poor durability. While their average life is not quite as short as their wooden counterparts, it is poor enough that competitive senior players will usually break one every week or two, which for an entire team over the course of a season can become extremely expensive. This can be a particularly nasty burden for "nonprofit" competitive teams (such as college hockey teams in the United States), some of whom have begun restricting their players from using the most expensive composite sticks.
Kevlar, most commonly known as a bulletproof material, has become a fairly common component of composite sticks. Originally added to increase the durability of aluminium stick blades, it became an ideal addition to the more fragile wooden and carbon fiber sticks, and today it is a material used by nearly every manufacturer. It is a useful component as it dramatically increases the durability of the stick without significantly compromising its weight, feel, or flex properties. Kevlar is described as a coarse material that will grind against the ice to create a less powerful shot.
Titanium sticks are a fairly new development, and were first introduced in the shafts of the TI or Mission Titanium series. They are usually just a shaft, which will be coupled with a wooden or carbon blade in much the same manner as an aluminium stick. Other sticks have titanium added as a composite material to carbon fiber or kevlar.
Titanium is similar to aluminium in general properties, although it is lighter, stronger, and is said to have notably superior "flex" properties (due mainly to the relative thinness of the walls of the shaft).