Virtually everyone in the United States has heard of the Frisbee and almost 90 percent of all people in this country have played with one (State Master). At a glance Ultimate is relatively easy to understand, but if one delves deeper into the technicalities, there is a variety of subjects that constitute the makeup of the sport. A couple of these topics include the history of the Frisbee, the production of discs, and the physics that affect them. As Frisbee becomes more and more popular, it is important that one understand the mechanics of this uprising sport. The History of Ultimate and Frisbees
Many colleges have claimed to be the home of “he who was first to fling,” and, although the origin of the Frisbee is dubious, it is agreed that it was first discovered by a couple of New England college students (Johnson). After eating pies bought from the Frisbie Pie Company, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the students took the empty tins and threw them upside down discerning that they could be stably thrown and caught. In 1955, Walter Frederick Morrison wanted to cash in on this potential money-making toy so he created a new, plastic disc called the Pluto Platter. Morrison was awarded a US Design Patent for his disc the next year. A California toy company by the name Wham-O gave Pluto Platters the brand name Frisbee because that is what New England students were calling it. The man behind the disc’s success was Ed Headrick, Wham-O’s General Manager, and Vice President of marketing. He altered the disc to make it more stable and easier to be thrown accurately. The sales skyrocketed, and, in 1964, the first “professional” model was put on the market. Headrick then patented the new design and pushed Frisbee as a sport. He is commonly known as the “Father of Disc Sports” for his contributions to the game and because he later founded the “International Frisbee Association” which began establishing standards and regulations for various activities discs were used in (Wikipedia). The Production of Frisbees
To start off, one has to understand what Frisbees are made of before one understands how they are made. Ultimate discs are roughly 20-25 centimeters across with a lip and weigh 175 grams. Frisbees have been made out of polyethylene, a thermoplastic material, since the early 1950s. When ethylene, a colorless, flammable gas, is heated in the presence of a catalyst, it converts into a polymer. To enhance stability and increase crack resistance, other ingredients are included in the blend. First, the plastic pellets are put into the hopper to be fed into the heating cylinder to be melted. A high speed injection molding process is used to form the actual Frisbee by injecting the fluid plastic materials into the mold. It is then cooled and the only finishing touches that are needed include trimming excess plastic off the mold. The decoration can be put on three different ways. The most common way to place decoration is hot stamping. The others involve applying ink by using a silk screen or a letter press machine. The weights of the discs are determined by the amount of melted material put into the mold. The wastes of manufacturing are close to none because anything that is cut off or not accepted is thrown back into the regrinding machine to be recycled and mixed into the virgin material. The only quality control required involves checking the new Frisbees for consistent weight and size. Physics of Disc Flight
There are four factors that affect disc flight when not counting any laws or principals: spin, speed, pitch, and bank. When throwing the Disc, spin is created by the torque exerted on the Disc usually with a flick of the wrist or finger. 1. SPIN If the Disc has no spin, than it won’t be stable and it won’t travel far. This is the biggest factor affecting the distance the disc flies; if the disc has an insufficient amount of spin, it will fly some distance and then bank to one side or the other...
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"Flying Disc." State Master. 2006. Nation Master, Web. 10 Dec 2009.
"Flying Disc." Wikipedia. 2009. Wikimedia Foundation Inc, Web. 10 Dec 2009.
Sheppard, Laurel . "Frisbee." How Products Are Made. 2003. Unknown, Web. 10 Dec 2009.
Goleta, Ca: Studarus Publishing, 2003. 63-82. Print.
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