You make real golf discs. I’ve been making small golf discs and I want to tell you a little about them. There is no ask here. I’m not hoping to sell you anything.
I figured out how to 3D print small flying discs that fly like their larger counterparts. They are much lighter weight, which means you can play indoors. For example, at night, or when traveling, because each building is a new course.
I think small disc golf is fun and challenging. It’s got lots of the same kinds of things going for it that regular disc golf has, but for example it is accessible to more people because strength is not a factor, nor is access to a course.
Many people have 3D printers and it costs about 30 cents to print a small golf disc.
I developed the idea to a point where now I can share it with anyone who is interested. And, I put the idea and several disc designs and other resources into the public domain. You may freely use it without any form of licensing or royalties1.
Eventually enough people might want these to make it worthwhile to make injection molds and sell them. They have to be lighter than traditional disc plastic would allow, otherwise they don’t fly like their larger counterparts. Bigger discs need to be heavier. Smaller discs need to be lighter. 3D printing them in PLA or PETG plastic yields very playable discs. The discs I’ve provided are not durable enough to be commercial products, but they work fine to convey the idea that small discs fly like large ones. I chose PLA plastic for these demo discs because it is easy and safe to use.
If there is a market, it would be easy to sell small golf discs. You are already expert at selling and marketing flying discs. I truly hope the market develops and you do sell discs and that it becomes a new revenue stream for you. I hope one day that there is an indoor disc golf tournament.
Manufacturing and selling 3D printed small golf discs is a very different business than their full-sized counterparts. 3D printers can be purchased to expand capacity as needed. Discs can be printed on demand, when they are ordered, instead of being held in inventory. The variety of combinations of shape, color, plastic and artwork can result in a vast number of combinations, but printing on demand means more variety isn’t a liability.
Discs are inexpensive to ship even in larger numbers. The price point can be lower because materials are inexpensive and the printers last for many years. Prusa Research2, who made the printer I use, manufactures all the plastic parts for their own printers in their own print farm, comprised of their own printers.
If a 3D printer fails you would lose one from among however many printers you have. The rest keep operating. The only single point of failure is electricity, which is one of the easiest dependencies to ensure with an uninterruptible power supply. A print farm allows you to adapt quickly to changing demand and if it fails, it does so in small increments that are self-contained.
You have an important advantage over DIY golf disc printers: you can print in plastics most home 3D printer users eschew because they are challenging to print and/or produce fumes when printing. These things are much easier to mitigate in an industrial setting. You could offer discs in plastics that other people cannot or will not print, and you could have your own filament manufactured to your own specifications for your discs, giving you a unique edge on all manufacturers who use off-the-shelf filament.
But, that is not the only thing that small disc golf brings to a disc manufacturer right now. Right now small golf discs allows you to prototype new disc designs before committing to an injection mold or other more expensive prototyping techniques. I can draw a disc profile and turn it into a disc in Fusion 360, export it to a “slicer” program to prepare it for printing, and print the new disc in three hours, start to finish. Then I can throw it around and see how it behaves: three hours after imagining its shape.
The ability to quickly and inexpensively iterate among different disc designs, or modify and refine a disc design, is helpful to any innovative disc maker.
Of course, you could make full-sized discs this way, but 3D printing full-sized golf discs isn’t isn’t going to work as well unless you consider a much more expensive kind of 3D printer (resin printers) which are also more hazardous and complicated to operate. They might be useful for prototyping but I don’t think the technology would be useful for production; however, eventually it might be practical to bypass injection molding entirely and print full-sized discs instead. I think that is years away.
I’m printing small golf discs on a Prusa Mk3S+2, which costs $649 as a kit and $899 pre-assembled. My smallest disc prints in about 80 minutes. My biggest disc prints in about 150 minutes. I can print six to eight in a day.
Here are some useful links in case you are interested in learning more:
- SmallDiscGolf.org3 (main site)
- Small Disc Golf Facebook Group8
You can reach me at hoco at smalldiscgolf dot org if you have any questions or feedback.
I’m not trying to sell you anything. All of the information and ideas here and on smalldiscgolf.org3 are free for your use. I’m trying to make small disc golf be a thing, but it isn’t the same thing to everyone. It’s what you make of it.
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