Tamasu Co., Ltd. is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of table tennis goods. Its Butterfly brand is known throughout the world and esteemed by top-echelon players—competitors in the Olympics and World Table Tennis Championships. Toyobo’s PBO fiber Zylon® is used for the inner part of Butterfly table tennis rackets.
|Zylon® is a super fiber that features one of the world’s highest levels of strength and modulus of elasticity (resistance to deformation). These properties are highly desirable for sporting equipment of all kinds. It is used, for example, for the bicycle wheel spokes in competitive cycle racing.|
|Racket using Zylon®|
The “Liu Shiwen Model” (ZL Fiber)
|Yusuke Iwase, Head of Racket Planning and Development, R&D Team, Tamasu Co., Ltd. (Butterfly)|
|Q: What part of the racket is Zylon® used in?|
|A: A racket is made of different types of wood glued together. To bring out the functionality of Zylon®, it is used as a special material in sheet form between the layers of wood. (See illustration)Three types of Zylon® are used—ZL Fiber, ZL Carbon, and Super ZL Carbon. ZL Fiber is pure Zylon®, while ZL Carbon and Super ZL Carbon are materials made from Zylon® woven with carbon. All three are staple products for Butterfly rackets.|
|Q: How did the development take place?|
|A: Development began in 2004. At first we were concerned with increasing resistance properties, and while trying to develop a new material we happened to discover Zylon®. We were disappointed that Zylon® could not be used for the original intended purpose, but it showed a high modulus of elasticity and because of its light weight, we wondered if it might be possible to use Zylon® as a material for the inner part of the racket.
We encountered some difficulty finishing the edge of the racket, but finally in 2007 we were able to commercialize rackets using Zylon®, such as the Photino.
As a table tennis racket manufacturer, we are dealing with very fine measurements. Every gram of weight and every millimeter of thickness counts. Zylon® has superb properties, so we were willing to put in many years of effort to finally bring products to market using the material.