If you’re reading this, you’re either a hockey player or looking for a stick for a hockey player. By the end of this article, you should be equipped more knowledge than you ever thought you needed to evaluate different hockey sticks.
For hockey players, it’s super important it is to have a good hockey stick that suits their style and preference. A hockey stick is not just a piece of wood or metal that you use to hit the puck, but a sophisticated tool that can enhance your performance and skills on the ice. One of the key factors that determines the quality and performance of a hockey stick is the type of carbon fiber that’s used to make it.
In the hockey stick industry, carbon fiber is used to make composite materials that are lighter, stronger, and stiffer than traditional materials, such as wood or aluminum. Composite materials are made by combining carbon fiber with a resin matrix that binds the fibers together and gives them shape and structure. Composite materials can be molded into different shapes and sizes to create hockey sticks with different features and characteristics.
However, not all carbon fibers are the same. In this blog post, we will compare and contrast three different types of carbon fibers that are heavily used in the hockey stick industry: Toray, Sigmatex, and TeXtreme, as well as speak to a recent trend in cost cutting, Chinese domestic carbon fiber.
Toray Carbon Fiber
Toray is a Japanese company that produces carbon fiber under the brand name TORAYCA®. Toray carbon fiber is the leading manufacturer of carbon fiber for hockey stick construction globally. It is widely used by many top manufacturers, such as Bauer, CCM, Warrior, and Twig. Toray carbon fiber is known for its high strength, stiffness, and durability, as well as its soft touch and feel.
Toray carbon fiber comes in different grades and categories, such as standard modulus (SM), intermediate modulus (IM), and high modulus (HM), which indicate the tensile modulus and strength of the fiber. The higher the modulus, the stiffer and more powerful the fiber is, but also more brittle and expensive. Toray carbon fiber also has different tow sizes, surface treatments, and sizings, which affect the processability and compatibility of the fiber with various resin systems.
Some known advantages of Toray carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has a high stiffness-to-weight ratio, which means it can provide more power and speed for shooting and passing.
- It has a smooth and consistent surface, which means it can provide a better feel and touch for handling the puck.
- It has a high durability and resistance to impact, which means it can last longer and withstand more wear and tear.
Known disadvantages of Toray carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has a high cost, which means it can be more expensive than other types of carbon fibers.
- It has a low flexibility and elasticity, which means it can be more prone to cracking or breaking under stress or shock.
- It has a low thermal conductivity, which means it can be more sensitive to temperature changes and moisture.
Sigmatex Carbon Fiber
Sigmatex is a British company that produces carbon fiber textiles for composite material applications. Sigmatex carbon fiber is used by some hockey stick manufacturers, the most notable being CCM. Sigmatex carbon fiber is known for its performance and customization for specific applications.
Sigmatex uses a variety of conversion technologies, such as weaving, knitting, braiding, spreading, and multiaxial stitching, to create different types of carbon fiber fabrics or non-crimp fabrics (NCFs). Sigmatex also uses a range of carbon fiber grades, including recycled materials.
Known advantages of Sigmatex carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has a high flexibility and elasticity, which means it can provide more control and accuracy for shooting and passing.
- It has a complex and customized structure, which means it can provide a better fit and performance for specific applications.
- It has a low environmental impact, which means it can use recycled materials and reduce waste.
Known disadvantages of Sigmatex carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has a low stiffness-to-weight ratio, which means it can provide less power and speed for shooting and passing.
- It has a rough and uneven surface, which means it can provide a worse feel and touch for handling the puck.
- It has a low durability and resistance to impact, which means it can wear out faster and break more easily.
TeXtreme Carbon Fiber
TeXtreme is a Swedish company that produces advanced carbon fiber reinforcements under the brand name TeXtreme®. TeXtreme carbon fiber is used by some hockey stick manufacturers, such as Bauer and True. TeXtreme carbon fiber is known for its ultra-light weight and superior quality.
TeXtreme uses a unique technology called spread tow, which involves spreading the carbon fiber tows into very thin tapes before weaving or stitching them into fabrics or NCFs. This results in a more uniform distribution of fibers, less crimping, less resin uptake, and higher mechanical performance.
Known advantages of TeXtreme carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has an ultra-light weight, which means it can provide more agility and maneuverability for skating and stickhandling.
- It has a superior quality and performance, which means it can provide more consistency and reliability for shooting and passing.
- It has a high mechanical efficiency, which means it can use less material and resin to achieve the same or better properties than other types of carbon fibers.
Known disadvantages of TeXtreme carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It has a very high production cost, which means it’s typically the most expensive type of carbon fiber on the market.
- It has a limited availability, which means it can be hard to find or access for some customers or manufacturers.
- It has a complex production process, which means it can require more expertise and equipment to handle and process.
Chinese Domestically Produced Carbon Fiber
One of the recent trends in budget hockey stick manufacturing is to manufacture sticks using domestically produced carbon fiber instead of using one of the three proven performance leaders mentioned above. Chinese carbon fiber is used by some retailers to produce the lowest cost pure carbon hockey stick possible. Using Chinese carbon fiber is a pure cost cutting move to produce a lower cost, lower tier of performance end product. It is known to be cheaper, heavier, and less responsive than Toray, Sigmatex, and TeXtreme carbon fiber. It also typically has lower quality and performance standards.
The only known advantages of Chinese carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks is:
- It is very inexpensive to procure and use in manufacturing.
Known disadvantages of Chinese carbon fiber for ice hockey sticks are:
- It is typically heavier and less responsive than other carbon fiber used in hockey stick manufacturing. Lighter builds actually require less material thus reducing the lifespan.
- Its lifespan is typically shorter than other carbon fibers used in hockey stick manufacturing.
- It is not used in any high-end performance products because of its inferior properties
So, what's the best then?
That was a lot of detailed information, eh? As you can see, there is no definitive answer to which of the top three carbon fibers is better for an ice hockey stick, as different carbon fibers have different properties and characteristics that may suit different players and preferences. We, at Twig Hockey Company, only use Toray carbon in our sticks since it has the best proven track record at all levels of play from professional down to recreation leagues. The same can't be said by other manufacturers producing sticks at our same price point.
We hope this blog post has helped you understand the difference between Toray, Sigmatex, and TeXtreme carbon fibers in ice hockey stick manufacturing. We also hope it helps you identify cheaply constructed Chinese carbon fiber-based sticks out there as well so you can make the best decision in your purchase. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below and thanks for getting a little hockey smarter with us today.
Be sure to take a look at another related post on the topic: The Truth About Pro Stock Hockey Sticks and Equipment in 2023