How Modern Lacrosse Sticks are Made: An In Depth Guide

With all the new technological innovations that are emerging from lacrosse year after year, you start to wonder how these products are made. This exact thought entered my mind as I was browsing through some of the newest lacrosse stick arrivals. It was at that moment that I decided to take it upon myself to uncover the mystery of how lacrosse sticks are produced.

Since the modern lacrosse stick is made up of multiple entities (head, shaft, and pocket), there is a specialized manufacturing process for each piece of the lacrosse stick. Innovative machinery has allowed lacrosse companies to streamline production and focus their efforts entirely on R&D.

In the ancient days of lacrosse, lacrosse sticks were constructed from trees and rawhide. Modern day lacrosse sticks have come a long way since then due to the technological novelties that lacrosse companies now have access to. I will describe step-by-step how each part of the lacrosse stick is made so you can finally put your curious mind at ease.

How a Lacrosse Head is Made

Standard Ingredients Used

  • High Density Polyethylene
  • Low Density Polyethylene
  • Nylon Resin

Surprisingly, nylon resin is the primary ingredient from which lacrosse heads are made. Prior to my research, I only ever associated nylon with stringing materials. I never thought it would have anything to do with the manufacturing of lacrosse heads.

Generally, most players generically describe the ingredients used to make a lacrosse head as “hard plastics” rather than using the more descriptive term of nylon resin. According to the STX patent on lacrosse heads, trace amounts of high density polyethylene and low density polyethylene are also used (source).

Detailed Overview of Manufacturing Process

  • 2D Sketch is Drawn – The very first step in the process of making a lacrosse head is drafting up an elementary illustration of the lacrosse head on a piece of paper. Essentially, this just the ideation phase.
  • 3D Model is Designed – From the sketch, a 3D model is designed via a CAD software. Engineers know better than I do, but this seems like the bulk of actually taking an idea for a lacrosse head and bringing it into reality.
  • 3D Model is 3D Printed – Once the laborious process of creating the lacrosse head on the CAD software is done, the model is 3D printed. With a physical manifestation of what the head would actually look like, the design is continually tweaked until it’s up to standard.
  • A Mold is Made from the 3D Print – The 3D printed lacrosse head is then used to create a mold. A mold is a hollowed out block that serves as the framework for the production of the actual lacrosse head itself. The contours of the mold precisely fit the exact shape of the 3D lacrosse head model.
  • Mold is Filled with Head Ingredients – The mold is then transported to the manufacturing facility. The transportation process is no walk in the park. All told, the mold elements combined together weigh nearly two tons! The mold is then filled with a hot, liquid plastic. Once dry, the head is fixed into its final shape.
  • Lacrosse Head Goes Through Final Touches – Lastly, the plastic lacrosse head is removed from the mold. A hole is drilled into the back of the head so that it can be screwed onto a shaft. From here, the lacrosse head is ready to be shipped out to stores!

I actually found this process interesting to watch, as I’ve never really thought about all the little details that go into making a lacrosse head. Observing every step of how a lacrosse head is produced makes you more privy to all the hard work that lacrosse head production demands. Watch the video below to get a behind the scenes look at how lacrosse heads are actually constructed.

Why Lacrosse Companies Use this Manufacturing Blueprint

The technological advances of CAD software and 3D printing have opened up a world of wonders for lacrosse head manufacturers. With these tools, creative designers are able to be more bold with their models and test out what actually works best in the lacrosse head industry.

The CAD software that lacrosse head designers have access to allow them to play around with the face shape, the placement of the sidewall holes, the contour of the scoop, the offset of the head, and a host of other aspects. They can then see the fruits of their labor via 3D printing to observe whether the experiment was a success or failure.

As you can probably imagine, this immediate feedback is extremely valuable as it allows head manufacturers to continually move forward. With innovation, trial and error is absolutely key. Recent technological advances have allowed head manufacturers to take this trial and error to heights never seen before.

How Lacrosse Mesh is Made

Standard Ingredients Used

  • Cotton
  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Polypropylene
  • Resin
  • Wax (Optional)

The raw material that is used to manufacture mesh originally come in fibers of cotton, nylon, polyester, or polyropylene (source). These thin fibers are then interwoven to create the basis of the mesh. From there, the raw mesh is infused with resin or fitted with a coat of wax to promote durability.

Detailed Overview of Manufacturing Process

  • Yarn is Mechanically Unspooled – When the mesh manufacturer first receives the raw yarn materials, they’re already spooled. This pre-spooled yarn must be fed into the stringing machinery to be unspooled into a taut thread that can be delivered to subsequent machinery.
  • Yarn is Mechanically Twisted – Once the yarn is unspooled and taut, two to three different threads are twisted together. Combining multiple yarn threads together bolsters the integrity of the mesh.
  • Twisted Yarn is Mechanically Knitted – The twisted yarn is then fed into a knitting machine. The knitting machine takes the twisted yarn and neatly interweaves it into a diamond configuration. The knitting machine is responsible for the diamond shape, size, and elasticity. All of these various factors can be tinkered with by modifying the specifications of the knitting machine.
  • Mesh Roll is Laser Cut to Correct Length – With the knitting process finished, a lengthy, uncut mesh roll accumulates. This uncut mesh roll is fed into a separate laser cutting machine. The lasers precisely cut the mesh to the appropriate length needed for stringing a lacrosse pocket.
  • Raw Mesh is Treated with a Final Coat – At this point, all the hard work is essentially finished. The only real work left is infusing the mesh with resin. Depending on what type of mesh is being produced, the mesh may be treated further with a wax coating.

If you want to see all of these steps in action, StringKing actually did a tour of their facility in China where they revealed all of the different machinery involved with the mesh manufacturing process. Click on the video below to check it out for yourself!

Why Lacrosse Companies Use this Manufacturing Blueprint

Prior to mesh, the makeup of a lacrosse pocket consisted of a complex organization of leathers and nylon strings, more commonly referred to as traditional pockets. The issue was that these pockets demanded a considerable amount of time to string and they were prone to breaking.

The invention of mesh revolutionized stringing forever. With lacrosse mesh, stringers had a much easier time constructing their lacrosse pocket. Mesh also offered additional durability because of the integration of multiple yarn threads into a single weave. Traditional pockets simply could not compete.

The manufacturing process of mesh offers lacrosse companies a great deal of flexibility when it comes to designing new stringing products. Since the process is streamlined with machines, they can easily shift their efforts toward experimenting with alternative weaves, different coats, and altogether new materials to devise the best mesh possible.

In the absence of machinery, it would be difficult for manufacturers to continually innovate and release new mesh products that are better than what is already out there.

How a Lacrosse Shaft is Made

Standard Ingredients Used

  • Aluminum
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Scandium
  • Titanium
  • Wood

Modern lacrosse shafts can be classified into two categories based on their ingredients: metal shafts and composite shafts.

The majority of metal shafts are constructed from multiple elements, in what is commonly referred to as an alloy. A prominent example of an alloy that is utilized in a considerable amount of lacrosse shafts is aluminum alloy. The purpose of mixing various elements together is to take the strongest properties of each individual element to make the strongest, lightest shaft possible.

Composite shafts are always composed of carbon fiber. As opposed to metal shafts, these shafts tend to flex due to the nature of carbon fiber, so much so that you can feel it during the passing or shooting motion (source).

Lacrosse shafts were made out of wood in the past, but wooden shafts are becoming increasingly more rare due to the advent of metal and composite shafts.

General Overview of Manufacturing Process

  • Shaft Ingredients are Decided – The first step that lacrosse manufacturers must accomplish is what specific elements will be used in the making of the shaft. Will it be metal or composite? If it’s metal, what sort of alloy will it be? These are the questions that must be answered prior to initiating production.
  • Production Materials are Delivered to Facility – When the question of shaft ingredients has been settled, these raw materials are then delivered to the manufacturing plant. These materials are then fed into an assembly line to start the actual manufacturing itself.
  • Material is Sawed to Specific Lengths – Typically, the material is delivered in long, thick, heavyset cylinders. These cylinders are cut into more manageable sections by way of an industrial power saw machine.
  • Material is Hollowed Out into Rods – From here, these shortened cylinders continue along the assembly line where they’re hollowed out and pressed into thin rods. These thin rods are the width of a legal lacrosse shaft.
  • The Rods are Specially Shaped into Shafts – These rods don’t yet have the signature feel of a lacrosse shaft. It is only when these rods are fed into a separate machine that these rods are refined to have the characteristic octagonal shape of a lacrosse shaft.
  • The Shafts are Cut to the Correct Length – Although the product is finally beginning to resemble a lacrosse shaft, it still must be sliced into shorter sections to the exact legal length of a lacrosse shaft. Again, an industrial power saw is used to perform these cuts.
  • Finishing Touches – With the foundation of the lacrosse shaft set, all that is the left are the finishing touches. Screw holes are punched into the shaft towards the top of the shaft and a special graphic design is stamped onto the shaft.

StringKing is extremely transparent about how they go about manufacturing their lacrosse shafts. They even posted a video showing exactly how their Metal 2 Shaft is constructed, from the delivery of the raw materials to the end of the assembly line. Click on the video below to see for yourself!

Why Lacrosse Companies Use this Manufacturing Blueprint

Assembly line production is the most efficient way of handling the manufacturing of lacrosse shafts because it ensures a consistent product. Handcrafting each lacrosse shaft takes a great deal of time, something that lacrosse manufacturers simply don’t have.

Instead, their time is better spent on research and development, where they can test out the newest materials and implement new technologies to make their shafts lighter and stronger.

For example, StringKing devoted a tremendous amount of resources to the research and development of the Metal 2 lacrosse shaft. They took the time to analyze all of the previous shafts that were sent back for warranties and look for trends in where the lacrosse shaft broke. After scrutinizing all of the data, they realized that certain sections of the shaft were more prone to fracture.

They actually identified two specific zones where this was happening and labeled one the “stick check zone” and the other one the “cross check zone” (source). Consequently, they intentionally beefed up these portions of the shaft with the release of the Metal 2 lacrosse shaft, resulting in a higher caliber end product.

How the Production of Lacrosse Sticks Has Evolved

Before the technological era, all lacrosse sticks were made by hand. The construction process actually required months before the stick was finalized. This is in stark contrast to today’s manufacturing timeline. Now, the entire manufacturing process could take place in a day, from start to finish.

However, it’s important to note that with traditional lacrosse sticks, the head and shaft were one single unit. They were not produced separately. The framework of the stick had to be manually carved from wood and then shaped over several weeks. Expediting the process would only result in the wood returning back to its original shape.

The only other external part other than the wooden framework of the crosse was the actual pocket itself. As aforementioned, lacrosse pockets were predominantly made up of a complex of leather and strings in the early days of lacrosse. Threading these strings through the wooden structure of the stick was tedious work considering that the stringing holes were never consistently in the same place. Back in those days, you had to drill the stringing holes yourself.

Words don’t really do this artistry justice, so I included a video for you to appreciate just how intricate this process really was.

Lacrosse stick manufacturing has taken tremendous strides since then. It really is amazing to look back and see how far the lacrosse community has come. It makes you wonder what the future has in store for lacrosse.

Companies are always on the hunt for the next big thing that will change lacrosse forever. Recently, Warrior went all in on this idea of a lacrosse head with a built-in pocket. The product is called the Warrior Warp. Rather than featuring a head that has an adjustable mesh pocket, the pocket comes pre-knitted to the plastic. This way, the head is game ready, straight out of the box (source).

Although this idea was certainly unconventional, it has yet to take the lacrosse community by storm. This is because the Warrior Warp lacks one crucial aspect: adjustability. Players need to be able to adjust their sticks on the fly, otherwise they will be left with a stick that doesn’t throw the way they want it to.

Although the Warrior Warp may not have been revolutionary, it goes to show that changes are always on the horizon in the lacrosse manufacturing industry. It’s only a matter of time before one of these groundbreaking ideas sticks and forever changes the way lacrosse sticks are made.

Final Thoughts

The process by which lacrosse sticks are made is remarkably methodical, largely due to the influx of specialized technological machinery. The consistency of production has allowed lacrosse companies to concentrate on progressive innovation rather than fixing the production process.

This has benefited the lacrosse community as a whole because now every player has access to high quality lacrosse sticks. Hopefully, this trend will continue so that the sport of lacrosse can sustain a steady course of growth in the coming years!

Sources: 1 2 3 4 5

Austin Carmody

I am the owner of Lacrosse Pack. I enjoy hitting the local lacrosse fields and honing in on the craft in my free time.

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