A scrapped golf-club testing machine got a second life when Greg Kenrick, owner of R.G. Kenrick Co. Inc., an industrial-automation distributor in Flint, Mich., decided to restore it using pneumatic components. The original owner had stripped out all the electrical components of the servo-based device. Restoring it to its original condition would have taken thousands of dollars of servomotors and sensors, plus a PC and custom-written software to program the motion profiles for replicating a golf swing. And the machine would have needed 480 Vac, an option not available at the venues Kenrick had in mind: golf courses where it would be used to improve duffers’ swings.
Instead, the firm replaced the servos with a simpler and more-portable pneumatic design based on an air cylinder. It converted the machine to 120 Vac, added standard pneumatic components, including an emergency stop, and reworked it to need only two switches for starting and resetting the robot.
VIDEO: Watch the machine in action,
The converted robot can swing a golf club and get the head speed up to 115 mph, ±2 mph, enough to drive a ball about 250 yards. But developers soon discovered that without the ability of a servo to slow the club speed over user-defined profiles, the clubs would come to a jarring stop after each 115‑mph swing. The sudden stops would eventually snap the shaft or head of the club.
To solve this problem, Kenrick added a pair of shock absorbers from Enertrols U.S.A., Farmington Hills, Mich., one to softly stop the wrist action, and another for the arm action. The two shocks smoothed out the decelerations and spared shafts and heads from damage.
Kenrick now plans to make the machine available to smaller golf-club making companies that cannot afford test equipment to evaluate club heads and shafts.