How Badminton String Is Made
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
Maybe Iím just a bit too close to the subject to be entirely objective, but I find racket string fascinating, and I just donít get it when otherwise serious badminton players ignore their most important piece of equipment. But even among players who restring frequently, few give any thought to how string is made.
String manufacturing relies on century-old techniques, with a healthy dose of high-tech mixed in. Some of the equipment at Ashaway dates from the earliest years of the 20th Century, but itís still the best technology available for turning nylon yarns into high-tech badminton strings. Every step in the process plays an important role in the construction of high-quality string. Hereís how it works.
STEP 1: The first step is to build the stringís core, using multifilament or microfilament nylon yarns. The yarns come off the stationary bobbins at the top of the twisting frames, and are twisted together on one of the fast-spinning bobbins at the bottom. By varying the number of twists put into the yarn for each inch of core produced, Ashaway controls the amount of elongation and resiliency. When full, the bottom bobbins hold over 3,500 feet of core, composed of 1,000 to 5,000 filaments.
STEP 2: A worker sets up a machine that braids the stringís jacket or wear layer. As the core rises through the center of the machine, bobbins containing yarns for the jacket weave in and out around it. Differences in jacket construction can alter the stringís durability, control, ease of stringing, and appearance. Badminton strings get two jackets by going through the braider twice, for extra resistance to abrasion.
STEP 3: A chemical wear coating is then applied for additional durability. The string unreels from the right, enters the coating bath, then rises over pulleys forty feet straight up into the drying tower, seen at center. (The bath is just below the tower.) The string is re-wound on the takeup reels at left. It goes through this process several times to build up the right coating thickness.
STEP 4: An ink-jet prints the Ashaway name on the string at a rate of 3,000 feet per minute. Next, the string dips through another coating bath to make it easier to string into rackets. Then itís inspected by hand, cut to length, packaged, and shipped to distributors, stringers, or retail outlets worldwide.