Disc golf is a sport with increasing popularity. On gorgeous warm days, thousands of people head out and partake in a disc golf course. Disc golf discs have basically endless possibilities of color and design. From solid colors to ones with flames, or even personalized discs.
Have you ever wondered how a disc golf disc is made? Read on to satisfy that curious mind of yours…
How Do You Manufacture A Disc Golf Disc?
Disc golf discs are made through a specific process called injecting molding. No matter the type of discs, Distance drivers, midrange discs, and putters, new discs are all made by injection molding.
What Is Injection Molding?
Ok, so full disclosure, we are not going to get into the specifics of injection molding. Because life’s short and I have many more discs to throw before I sleep. But, here is a rudimentary short version: injection molding is when extremely hot plastic is poured into a mold, cooled to harden, and then finished to form the desired shape.
Injection molding is a process used worldwide for just about everything made of plastic and disc golf manufacturers alike. It can involve some really complicated and precise machinery while at the same time could be a homemade press.
Molding A Disc Golf Disc
I get it, you want more. No worries mate, if you’re a geek like me I like a little more detail…
An injection molding machine typically consists of 4 different sections. The beaded plastic granules are poured into a hopper, much like on an espresso machine. They are then turned and slowly heated to specific temperature and consistency…mmm something’s cooking. The hot plastic is then pushed into steel cavities that form the mold. Once the plastic cools in the cavities then boom, you have a disc golf disc. Well, sort of…there are still several steps manufacturers take to get us the perfect flying saucers.
A closer look at the actual mold shows it consists of 3 separate chambers that all come together to form the disc golf disc. The top of the disc mold gets shaped by the flight plate cavity, the middle by the wing cavity, and finally the bottom by the core (bottom cavity). These 3 cavities give the disc golf disc the shape and the aerodynamics to be able to fly accurately and directly affect the flight characteristics.
The final step, before getting to hit the disc golf course, is to run it through quality control and stamp it with any design. During this phase the QA team will verify the weight of the disc, make a quick diameter check, and look for any imperfections.
If all points checkout the disc gets a stamp on the underside showing the weight and possibly manufacturer logo plus date of production. Then comes the fun part, adding any design or stamp to the top. Of course some are left as blanks to provide those of us that like to create our own disc golf disc design through an art known as disc dyeing.
Jesse, from Trash Panda Disc Golf gives us a detailed look at homemade recycled discs in this overview video:
What is a disc golf disc made of?
You may be thinking that a disc golf disc is basically just a frisbee. However, you could not be more wrong. One particular difference, besides the individuality of disc golf disc, is that frisbees are made from slightly different raw materials. The plastic used in a frisbee is a polyethylene plastic blend which is far less dense while disc golf discs are made from polypropylene. Disc golf discs are much denser and made with a more durable plastic. Allowing a disc to travel farther distances and withstand the repeated abuse of hitting a tree.
More often than not disc golf discs are made of polypropylene plastic. Discs can be made from other plastics, but most are made from polypropylene. The plastics start off as tiny little pieces, almost like marbles, then they are melted down into plastic molten. Some manufacturers have even created a process to inject tiny air pockets into the disc producing a stunning result of lighter weight discs. A great first disc for those at the beginner skill level.
What kind of plastic are disc golf discs made of?
There are different plastics that can be used for individual discs, and as you would imagine different plastics cause the discs to fly differently. Polypropylene is the most common but different brands use different plastics. There is a lot more besides plastic that determines how a disc golf disc flies. Some other common factors are different runs of discs, the different blending of plastics, different types of discs, and of course individual variation from disc to disc.
Different types of plastics can affect everything from durability, weight, stiffness, and even give the disc a good grip. New disc golfers often start out with a set of discs that is made from a lower quality disc. Nothing wrong here, and I would bet all of the Pro’s did the same. But, advanced players quickly realize the value of premium plastics. Check out this quick chart/guide from manufacturers of Latitude 64 on their various plastic types, including the Opto and Gold Line.
Thats A (saran) Wrap…
As you can see a lot goes into making a disc golf disc and even more goes into deciding which disc is right for you and your disc golf bag. The reality is every disc golfer is different and likes different discs. If you would like more information on how disc golf discs are made, check out the video below to watch and see the process for yourself!