- The Cobra KING Supersport-35 putter is constructed using a HP Metal Jet 3D printer.
- It features SIK Golf’s descending-loft face.
- It is available in very limited quantities on Cobra.com on Nov. 20 for $399.
Today Cobra Golf announced their new putter, the Cobra KING Supersport-35. Cobra releasing a putter is newsworthy. Honestly, I can’t remember the last time Cobra released a putter. There have been a few here and there but most of them are putters that come in a boxed set of clubs. I believe they had a non-U.S. release in 2017 but the only Cobra putter that stands out in my memory is the prototype they made for Ian Poulter in 2011.
I feel the Cobra KING Supersport-35 putter will be more memorable, perhaps heralding a new era of Cobra putters pushing the putter design envelope. One thing is certain. The KING Supersport-35 is not just a run-of-the-mill(ed) putter with Cobra engraving. Admittedly, a CNC mill is still involved in the process but the real manufacturing story involves high-tech 3D printing.
Printing the KING Supersport-35
HP’s 3D printing technology allows us to utilize a complex lattice structure to remove weight from the center of the putterhead and push significant amounts of weight to the perimeter. The result is superior MOI levels and massively increased stability and forgiveness. So not only is the 3D production method more consistent but it also allows us to design products in a new and superior way.”
Jose Miraflor, Vice President of Marketing, Cobra Golf
That lovely looking lattice will likely be the first part of the KING Supersport-35 that catches your eye. That internal network is visually unique and, as it turns out, requires a unique manufacturing scheme. The vast majority of putters these days are either cast or milled. The Cobra KING Supersport-35 is printed.
3D printing is one of those technologies that was pure science fiction at its inception. Perhaps that’s how all new technologies are viewed but 3D printing was even more futuristic. With the 3D printer, you could go from a 3D design on a computer to an actual object that you could hold in your hand. Not surprisingly, initial printers were prohibitively expensive but these days you can get a polymer printer on Amazon for a few hundred dollars.
Many industries, golf included, have incorporated 3D printers for rapid prototyping during the design process. Engineers can go from computer designs to testable prototypes far quicker with the 3D printer. Design changes no longer require retooling of machines, just a new print run. Here is a video Cobra Golf produced in 2013 about using the 3D printing technology during the design process.
The big deal about the Cobra KING Supersport-35 is that this is a 3D-printed putter that is not for the engineers but for the consumer. The HP-Metal Jet 3D printer is printing these for retail. This is a first-in-the-industry event. PING made some noise at the 2015 PGA show with 3D putter printing, but their 3D putter never made it to market. Cobra will have the KING Supersport-35 ready for purchase on their site this coming Friday..
This past summer, our own John Barba clued us in on Cobra’s plans to change the manufacturing landscape with the HP Metal Jet Printer. He teased that a 3D-printed club was coming. The Cobra KING Supersport-35 is that club.
Why Should You Care About 3D Putter Printing?
Moving to a 3D-printed manufacturing scheme changes the economic landscape for a company. I mentioned how it changes the prototyping process but it also influences manufacturing costs and even manufacturing location. That said, things that affect the balance sheet really don’t get me that excited when I roll putts. What does get me excited about 3D-printed putters is that they can be built in ways that would be impossible with traditional milling and casting methods.
Let’s go back to the KING Supersport-35’s internal lattice for a bit. That arrangement of metal would not be possible using a mill or a mold. It’s a paradigm-shifting event that the 3D printer gives designers the ability to explore unique geometries. 3D printing allows the putter designers to position the metal in new ways, changing the moment of inertia (MOI) and center of gravity (CG) values in the process. Removing the manufacturing constraints removes the design constraints, facilitating innovation. Of course, new is not always better. But without the ability to make something novel, we will forever be stuck at normal.
Deconstructing the KING Supersport-35
The internal lattice in the KING Supersport-35, as well as the rest of the body, is 3D printed from 316 stainless steel. The unique design allows the weight of this oversized blade putter to be pushed rearward and toward the edges. Most other putters need weights and/or other materials like tungsten to accomplish this. Rounding out the build is an aluminum insert. We will come back to that insert in a moment.
Once the putter is printed, it is sintered (think high heat and pressure to bind) for strength and then the CNC milling machine smooths out all of the edges.
The SIK Face
“I’ve had a lot of success over the years with my SIK putter and was really excited to work with Cobra to develop a new way to manufacture equipment and bring this new putter to market,”
The other bit of tech that you will find in the KING Supersport-35 is the incorporation of SIK Golf’s Descending Loft Technology into the aluminum face. Rather than the face having one uniform loft value, the SIK-designed face features four different loft zones. The top of the face is four degrees. Loft then decreases to one degree as you move from the top to the bottom of the face. The idea is that it minimizes variation in strike as you hit high or low on the face.
DeChambeau has had a SIK Golf putter in the bag for a while. It makes sense that Cobra would incorporate a technology that one of their best players endorses. What is refreshing about the incorporation of the tech is that it is through collaboration. Many times in the putterverse, ideas and technologies are “borrowed” rather then brokered. Kudos to SIK Golf and Cobra Golf for coming up with a way to work together. Both companies benefit from the collaboration. Cobra gets to use the face that DeChambeau endorses and Sik gets OEM-level publicity for their design.
How’s the Roll?
I think that is a reasonable question. Thankfully, I was able to roll some balls with the KING Supersport-35. Here are some of my initial impressions.
- It feels like a putter. That’s a compliment. I never would have known that this putter was made differently. Nothing screams “I’m printed!” when you roll it.
- The sound is much closer to a click than a ring. This will mean different things to different people as we all have our preferred impact sounds. What it made me think of is how printing can change the way that impact sounds are manipulated. Sound is an unsung design characteristic, but it is also one that will immediately turn off a potential buyer. Cobra may be able to market their future putters at Tone Tuned™, finding the frequency for successful putting.
- Impact is heavy, but vigorous. I tried to adjust the impact angle to see if I could get different feedback from the SIK face. I’ve got nothing quantifiable, but I found all of the roll results very similar, which is really the point.
- The toe hang on the KING Supersport-35 is at about 4:00. This should be a nice fit for folks with a slight arc stroke. It does have a hefty profile at address though so that could require some adjustment. Speaking of address, this putter definitely has a unique look behind the ball. If you look at the address photo in the gallery above, you will see that the center portion of the putter falls away a bit so that the silver part creates the primary visual. Another way to say that is that it looks more like a big C than a wide blade at address. Obviously this was intentional will the C being for Cobra…
A Novelty, or the New Normal
I mentioned it before but it is worth taking another look at John Barba’s piece about Cobra’s commitment to 3D printing. The KING Supersport-35 is the first 3D-printed product that Cobra has released. Their plan in the coming years is to release more products that utilize the HP Metal Jet manufacturing technologies. What these are exactly, Cobra has not said. However, if you can make a putter, you can likely make a wedge. Cobra could use the printer to tweak designs in unique ways. Lots of companies have polymer-filled hollow iron designs. What if you could somehow incorporate the printed-lattice design of the Supersport-35 into the cavity? I have no idea what that would accomplish but that’s the fun thing.
With the commitment to 3D production, Cobra Golf can push the design envelope into places previously unexplored.
Find out more at cobragolf.com.