After a successful launch of its MIM wedges last year, Cobra is convinced the injection-molding technology is the way to better irons.
By Tony Dear
The chrome finish certainly has a nice shine to it and it has an attractively-shaped head but, on the surface, Cobra’s new KING Tour irons don’t really look any more or less remarkable than any other player’s-distance iron on the market. To really appreciate the level of innovation in play though, and how these irons are actually very different from anything else, you need to familiarize yourself with MIM.
On its website, Parmatech Corporation, the Petaluma, CA-based company that spearheaded the emergence of industrial Metal Injection Molding in the early 1970s, describes MIM as the ‘cost-effective manufacturing of small and complex-geometry metal parts, combining injection-molding technology with powder metallurgy to achieve near-net shape and high-volume production of complex mechanical components, reducing waste and secondary machining’.
MIM creates components for a variety of industries including healthcare, telecommunications, aerospace, defense, and… golf. After collaborating with Parmatech, Cobra first used it for its King MIM wedge introduced in April of last year, saying the process created a more consistent grain structure and better density resulting in a wedge that felt significantly more solid and noticeably softer than cast and even forged clubs.
It’s a four-step process:
- Compounding—Fine 304 Stainless Steel powder is mixed with a blend of plastics called ‘binders’. The resulting granular substance is known as ‘feedstock’.
- Molding—The feedstock is injected into a mold and heated to form a rough iron head—or what is known as the ‘green’ part.
- Debinding—Solvent and thermal processing removes the binders from the metal powder.
- Sintering—To ensure the binders are completely removed and only the metal remains the unfinished head passes through a furnace so hot not only are the binders melt off, the powder particles fuse together creating 98% theoretical density—“The maximum achievable density of a particular element, compound or alloy, assuming no internal voids or contaminants”.
Besides MIM, there are three other significant features that might make the KING Tour one of the finds of the year. To further soften the feel and sound of impact, a thermoplastic polyurethane insert was added to the cavity; to shift the Center of Gravity away from the hosel toward the sweet spot, and increase the club’s Moment of Inertia (MoI), a tungsten weight was added to the toe; and lastly, Cobra Connect—now a standard feature on all Cobra clubs—puts Arccos sensors into every grip giving you Caddie Rangefinder, Smart Distance Club Averages, Strokes Gained Analytics and Caddie Advice—a combination of apps that should help you save shots (90-day free trial of Arccos Caddie).
Cobra has committed big bucks to creating innovative golf equipment the last few years. According to metal-am.com (‘am’ stands for Additive Manufacturing) the company is “currently working on a multi-year product roadmap with Parmatech and HP to create high-performance equipment using Metal Jet Binder Jetting technology as it looks to leverage the benefits of sinter-based AM.”
Without a PhD in metallurgy engineering, materials science, or something similar, I have no idea what any of that means, but it sounds intriguing.
For now though, the KING Tour iron’s tech story is compelling enough.
$1,300 (Steel, 4-PW)
Shaft – KBS $Taper (graphite shafts available custom only)
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