The folks at Stratasys have printed a nifty miniature baseball bat out of Objet ABS-like digital material that proved surprisingly resilient to stress.
Sam Green records on the company's weekly video blog what he cheekily calls "a precise scientific experiment to prove how strong this material actually is." He swings away with the bat at everything from squishy rubber balls to a 1-inch thick sheet of dry wall, even an apple is turned into sauce in a Gallagher-esque performance.
The bat appears to come through the test smashingly (pun intended). The head of the bat does not seem to have any major dents or dings, while the tapered handle doesn't show any obvious signs of stress.
"As you can see from the shape of this bat, the neck is very, very thin here," Green said. "There's a lot of momentum … and quite a lot of pressure being put on this thin neck here when we take our swing and hit the different objects we've been hitting here today."
It is worth noting that for some reason "the different objects we've been hitting here today" didn't include … oh say, a baseball, though a hard 3D printed ball was used.
The bat did seem to transfer painful vibrations to Greens hands, which suggest the material might not be the best for bats, though it is indicative of the kinds of force created with the bat.
The point of the demonstration was to show how well the material "performs like ABS-grade engineering plastics, which is groundbreaking when you consider that it starts out as a liquid resin that's jetted from an inkjet print head, and hardened by UV light!"
Green goes on to explain, "So what's the big deal then? Why not use a technology that simply extrudes real ABS? The answer is that most product designers and engineers require versatility when it comes to their rapid prototyping needs. Objet's inkjet-based 3D printing technology combines ultra-fine 16 micron layer resolution, a range of almost 70 different 3D printing materials, and can combine two very different materials in 14 different ways within any given model."
Baseball bats have historically been made from ash, maple and hickory wood because they are extremely hard and light weight at the same time. Bats used by amateurs all the way through college ball can be made out of aluminum or various metallic composites for the same reasons.
Who knows though, maybe ABS will become the standard bat material and players will cheat by hollowing out the end and "ashing" the bat with a strange substance called "wood."