Golf Republic Forum - Singapore's most active golfing forum.
 
HomeFAQCalendarRegisterLog in

Share | 
 

 Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts

View previous topic View next topic Go down 
AuthorMessage
Joshua
Very Active Golfer
Very Active Golfer


Posts : 570
Join date : 2010-11-22

PostSubject: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:18 pm

US forged iron heads used to rule over Japanese forged iron heads till 90s? In the year 1994 China came into the picture. Anyone tried the made in usa club heads and agree that they are better?



Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts

Posted by Tom on Sep 12, 2011 in Clubhead Design | 2 comments

If you’re into golf clubs or spend time reading the various golf equipment internet forums, there are occasional discussions from which you could get the impression that forged carbon steel iron heads made in Japan are superior to those made anywhere else in the world.

As a veteran of clubhead design and production with more than 25 yrs of head design experience including a whole lot of forged ironhead designs, I’m here to tell you this buzz about Japanese made forgings is simply not true. But first, a brief time out – sadly as an American I have to tell you that the US forging factories used to rule the roost in this area of clubhead production, but since the late 90s, the US forging companies have either gone out of business or no longer play a significant role in the forging of clubheads. Cornell of Chicago and Hoffman of Memphis, the two forging factories that ruled the golf industry for most of the 20th century are sadly gone. I can’t tell you if Wilson’s forging factory in Tennessee is still in business, but as of 1998 when I last worked with them on a project related to my work on helping Golfsmith buy the Snake Eyes name, their business was pretty much gone then.

I also had a brief experience with Smith & Wesson, the US firearms manufacturer who had a short lived stint in the golf business when Snake Eyes contracted with them to make a forged carbon steel iron in the late 90s. While the man who supervised the project for S & W very definitely wanted to continue the project, he insisted they would not do so unless S & W re-made the forging dies. Snake Eyes had contracted with a lower cost company to make the forging dies for this project and then handed the dies to S & W to forge the heads. According to the S & W supervisor, the poor quality of the forging dies caused all sorts of problems, such that S & W admitted these heads were not even close to showing what they could do. Long story short, I did not re-up the project because the cost for S & W to remake the forging dies was far more expensive than we were willing to pay to continue that project.

So that leaves China as a competitor to the Japanese forging factories. It was 1994 when I became aware of the first serious attempt by a Chinese based company to do forged clubhead production. By 1998 this company (Virage Tech Industrial) was a serious contender in the forging production business in the golf industry.

In 2002 before I started TWGT, I served as a design and production consultant for the Virage Tech company. Based in western China, Virage Tech began business in 1994 and now counts a number of the well known US and Japanese golf companies as customers for their forged iron head production. During the time, I had the chance to live, eat and breathe every possible part of clubhead forging design and production. With my experience in clubhead design and specifically in forged clubhead design, I know nothing of any other China based forging companies, but I can tell you that Virage Tech most definitely knows what they are doing and does produce forged ironheads which are every bit as good as and better than any of the Japan forging companies. The sheer fact Virage Tech does produce forged iron heads for some of the largest golf companies is itself a strong testimony on behalf of their skills.

But time out number two here for a moment before we get into any specifics about the actual forging process. First and foremost, with ANY clubhead design, whether forged, formed or cast, the ultimate outcome of the quality and performance of the design lies far more with the designer or the clubhead product manager of the golf company than it does with the production factory. This is just as the software people like to say, “garbage in means garbage out.”

Design wise, if the creator of the head model doesn’t do his job to design each head in the set so all the dimensions and mass properties are perfect, doesn’t verify this on the tooling masters, doesn’t check it on the first raw forging runs, and doesn’t ensure it on the first production runs of the finished heads, it isn’t going to matter how much skill and experience the production factory has – the head model will not perform as well as one that has been managed perfectly through all its pre-production development. Period.

Now let’s talk specifics of the forging process itself.

Carbon Steel Quality. Tons of the mavens on the golf forums like to say that the steel used by the Japan forging factories is better. Malarkey. Any metallurgist will tell you that the typical carbon steel alloys used to forge ironheads are the easiest to formulate of any metal – meaning getting the right percentages of the Carbon, Manganese, Phosphorus, and Sulfur to mix in with the base Iron are very easy to achieve. What’s more, any decent steel supplier will always ship specification documents with each mill run of the steel which verify the +/- tolerances for every chemical and mechanical property of the steel based on international standards. In short, if you buy carbon steel for iron head forging from a Japanese mill or a Chinese mill which possesses the proper certifications from the various international metal standards organizations, you get the same exact steel. Period. Having seen the shipments of carbon steel at the Virage Tech factory with their mill spec certification paperwork, I can testify that in no way is the carbon steel used by the Japan forging companies any better or any different.

Forging Die Quality. Both the Japan forging companies as well as Virage Tech routinely make their forging dies from a very hard tool steel called SKD-61 alloy, which has a Rockwell hardness of HRC55-57. Here again, the chemical and mechanical properties of SKD-61 steel are verified by international certifications. As to the quality of each forging die with respect to making each head correctly, this again is a dual responsibility between the head model designer/manager of the golf club company in combination with the forging companies’ tooling supervisor. If the raw forgings come out of the die at the correct weight, loft, lie, face progression, shape requirements and within the required +/- tolerances for each, the die quality is assured.

I remember when I worked briefly with the Wilson forging factory that had been the main supplier of the original Snake Eyes forged irons and wedges, upon measuring the weight of the raw forgings for each like iron or wedge head, I saw a raw forging weight tolerance of +/- 30 grams and more! Inspecting raw forging quality at Virage Tech, I saw their weight tolerance for the raw forgings as they come out of the last forging step to be +/-5 grams – which is considered to be extremely tight for a raw forging. Wide weight tolerances in the raw forgings are a product of poor die construction as well as poor control of the actual forging process itself.

Forging Process. In hitting the most important points of the process, first of all, a quality made raw forging has to achieve the following requirements; 1) a very tight weight tolerance so that when the raw forging is processed into a finished head ready to be electroplated, no real variation has to be done in the machining, grinding and finishing processes and the heads can end up with a tight finished head tolerance. 2) the surface condition of the raw forging has to be of very high quality so that the minimum amount of material is removed in the machining, grinding and finishing processes to again achieve a very tight finished head quality. 3) the internal grain structure is as uniform and isotropic as possible with the least number of “tiny holes” which are called internal voids.

To achieve this, Virage Tech and the Japan forging companies use both an 800 ton and 1000 ton forging press in the production of the forged carbon steel ironheads they produce. Using a higher level of forging pressure does not ensure quality in the raw forging. Using the RIGHT forging pressure with the forging dies made precisely to match with the specific forging pressure for each forging step is what ensures the raw forgings come out with a more uniform grain structure and with a minimum of voids.

One thing I might add – to my knowledge Virage Tech was the first forging company to increase the number of forging die steps to be able to improve the outcome of all three forging requirements I listed above. The Japan forging companies followed suit after Virage Tech inaugurated this change in their forging production. I am proud to say that I had a hand in this decision when I was serving as a production consultant to Virage Tech in 2002.

The first project I was handed by Virage Tech was to figure out how to improve the head to head shape consistency for a forged iron model they were making for one of the larger OEM golf companies. This particular golf company had been trying to get tour players to use this forged iron model and was hearing complaints from the pros that there were variations in the leading edge and toe profile shape of one set vs another of the same model.

In studying the model through production, I could see that after the completion of the usual 4th and last forging step to make the raw forgings, the excess flashing material squeezed to the outer edges of each head was large enough that the Virage Tech workers could make a mistake and grind too much steel off the outer edges of the toe and sole and change the profile slightly. The workers had tried using face profile templates to guide their final grinding of these surfaces, but this was not solving the problem.

I suggested that if they added on one more forging step, this would reduce the excess flashing on the outer edges of the head to a much smaller section that could more easily be ground off by the workers without touching the actual profile edges of each head. A 5th forging die was made for each head and the result was far less material to grind off the edges of the heads, which in turn meant all heads of the same number came out of production looking the same.

Not only did this 5th forging step improve the density consistency of the raw forgings, which in turn tightened the +/- weight tolerance of the raw forgings, but this additional forging step further reduced the number of internal voids and improved the consistency of the grain structure of the carbon steel.

Add it all up and I tend to think the one thing that the Japan forging companies actually do which leads many technically uninformed people to form the opinion the Japanese forgings are better is the simple fact the forging companies in Japan charge a much higher price than does Virage Tech for its forgings. Marketing wise, it’s a simple but ill formed conclusion to assume when you pay more money, a product is better. Plain and simple, the price difference comes chiefly because of the labor cost differences between Japan and China.

So those are a few of the high points in this ongoing discussion of China vs Japan forgings. As always, if any of you have comments, that’s what our TWGT Blog is for.

Until next time, best wishes in this great game,

TOM


Source: http://wishongolf.com/forged-irons-from-japan-vs-us-or-china-the-facts/
Back to top Go down
guy013
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1378
Join date : 2011-06-28
Age : 37
Location : West side

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:25 pm

from what i read, and i am no expert. this article is just one man's opinion of the standard practises at a company that he himself had worked in. he had not worked in japan's factories and therefore cannot make comparisons. who's to say that japan doesn't have secret techniques that are not known to china or maybe they really are the same.

like i said i am no expert but dont think anyone can take this article to be THE FACTS per se.

but i just spent a long time reading an article on someone saying a lot of good things about himself and the company he worked for, as well as his home country.
Back to top Go down
Joshua
Very Active Golfer
Very Active Golfer


Posts : 570
Join date : 2010-11-22

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:31 pm

Anyone else had the opportunity to try out the differences?
Back to top Go down
guy013
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1378
Join date : 2011-06-28
Age : 37
Location : West side

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 8:33 pm

from the article. dont think u will be able to find any US made forgings anymore. seems like they all went out of business.

anyway heard that even japan brand forged clubs all outsourced to china already. china taking over the world
Back to top Go down
pushslice
Caddy
Caddy


Posts : 5606
Join date : 2009-12-26

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:35 pm

This whole discussions about forgings Japan vs non Japan, which one is best bla bla bla is all about opinions. Which facts are relevant?

What is the definition of better or best? Feel softer? That's personal to the person who's using lor. Perform better? That's primarily up to the clubhead design (again this is another opinion). Most expensive? Even people can't agree on the measure, let alone determining the results.

Why do we care what people think is best as long as you're happy with whatever clubs you use? Id understand if you work for, sell/distribute the product or own those forging houses or golf companies who claim to have the best forgings Laughing
Back to top Go down
golfool2009
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1313
Join date : 2010-06-14

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:47 pm

i'm disappointed they didn't talk about the malaysian forgings....

i'm surprised the china forgings weren't referring to counterfeit golf clubs......

i'm shocked i actually wasted time reading this thread....PS' last para said it best......
Back to top Go down
mox
Junior Golfer
Junior Golfer


Posts : 230
Join date : 2011-08-19
Age : 35

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:37 am

The writer of this very long article seems to have concluded that japanese forgings are not better then chinese forgings and his evidence is that China's Virage Tech does good forgings which are better forgings than USA's Wilson's. I find this leap of logic amusing.

It is also some effective marketing cuz the name Virage Tech is now stuck in my head after seeing those words so many times in the article.

apologies if i may have misunderstood any part of the article cuz it's so blardy long and it's late...

cheers & contemplating staying up to watch the frys.com first round.
Back to top Go down
DGman
Hall of Fame Golfer
Hall of Fame Golfer


Posts : 6384
Join date : 2009-06-18

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:32 am

Forging is a process that involves shaping the metal into a desired shape. Forging was often a process where heat or pressure or both was employed to help shape the metal into an object. the first metal used by man was gold and then copper. Today forging process is a lot more complicated and massive. some of the forging i have seen are 8 story building high and when the hammers strikes, you can literally feel the earth shake. but that is another story.

What is Tom Wishon is saying??....the americans forging house was thought to be good but the process was not good enough. the said taiwanese company thats based in Chengdu was found to produce better product, at a lower price and of a higher quality in terms of tolerance. the reason was the number/level of forging stages that ensures that the mould has more consistent weighting. (by increasing the level of forging, the finished product will be more compact and have less issues such as bubbles, cavity and impurities) What he did not mentioned was a lot of the heads manufactured today comes from this factory. its is economics of scale and the guarantee quality of the mould provided.

just imagine that we all start off by using a pound of flour and some ingredients like nuts, raisin, yeast, water and other ingredients. the task is to make a 30 pcs of bread that weights 25 grams each. unless the process and ingredients are measured and the process is carried out in documented stages, we will not get the same result day-in day-out.

he is pretty correct to say that the design influence feel and performance. from a metallurgy point of view, the hardness of a particular type of steel (such as 1020 or 1025) should always be the same according to the Rockwell Scale.

whether China, Japan, US or Thailand forging is better is a matter of opinion and be commensurate with the value paid (i am sure someone who paid a lot of money for their set is going to not going to admit easily that a cheaper but better design set may actually feel better).

Last but not least, club head manufacturing is pretty low in scheme of things such as aircraft and nuclear parts engineering. i have the good fortune of visiting a specialised engineering company making aircraft, nuclear and very complicated parts for the oil industry. the precision and the technology they used are exceptional. they are also in a project to make the new record land speed vehicle and the parts make F1 looks like a novice.

Newburgh Engineering UK

when you see how they do it, you will understand why engineering process is more important than spinning a marketing tale.

commercial break - newburgh was started by Nick Middleton's father and his brother is still the CEO of the company today. i believe thats where his pursuit of using technology in putting and making putters comes from.

btw have anyone heard of RWL34 steel? its purity when you see that quality of steel.

DGman
Back to top Go down
http://www.bigfishes.com
Vinny
Very Active Golfer
Very Active Golfer


Posts : 689
Join date : 2010-08-25
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:40 am

DGman wrote:
Forging is a process that involves shaping the metal into a desired shape. Forging was often a process where heat or pressure or both was employed to help shape the metal into an object. the first metal used by man was gold and then copper. Today forging process is a lot more complicated and massive. some of the forging i have seen are 8 story building high and when the hammers strikes, you can literally feel the earth shake. but that is another story.

What is Tom Wishon is saying??....the americans forging house was thought to be good but the process was not good enough. the said taiwanese company thats based in Chengdu was found to produce better product, at a lower price and of a higher quality in terms of tolerance. the reason was the number/level of forging stages that ensures that the mould has more consistent weighting. (by increasing the level of forging, the finished product will be more compact and have less issues such as bubbles, cavity and impurities) What he did not mentioned was a lot of the heads manufactured today comes from this factory. its is economics of scale and the guarantee quality of the mould provided.

just imagine that we all start off by using a pound of flour and some ingredients like nuts, raisin, yeast, water and other ingredients. the task is to make a 30 pcs of bread that weights 25 grams each. unless the process and ingredients are measured and the process is carried out in documented stages, we will not get the same result day-in day-out.



he is pretty correct to say that the design influence feel and performance. from a metallurgy point of view, the hardness of a particular type of steel (such as 1020 or 1025) should always be the same according to the Rockwell Scale.

whether China, Japan, US or Thailand forging is better is a matter of opinion and be commensurate with the value paid (i am sure someone who paid a lot of money for their set is going to not going to admit easily that a cheaper but better design set may actually feel better).

Last but not least, club head manufacturing is pretty low in scheme of things such as aircraft and nuclear parts engineering. i have the good fortune of visiting a specialised engineering company making aircraft, nuclear and very complicated parts for the oil industry. the precision and the technology they used are exceptional. they are also in a project to make the new record land speed vehicle and the parts make F1 looks like a novice.

Newburgh Engineering UK

when you see how they do it, you will understand why engineering process is more important than spinning a marketing tale.

commercial break - newburgh was started by Nick Middleton's father and his brother is still the CEO of the company today. i believe thats where his pursuit of using technology in putting and making putters comes from.

btw have anyone heard of RWL34 steel? its purity when you see that quality of steel.

DGman


Welcome back ~ the man has spoken........ Judging from the time you put this up ~ jetlag, my friend?

So, was the trip was a fruitful one?

Beer
Back to top Go down
Online
eiji
Course Marshal
Course Marshal


Posts : 6193
Join date : 2009-08-22
Age : 35
Location : Training

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:03 am

I am actually more interested in the differences between the performance of those expensive Japanese Drivers and Woods vs the rest of the world.

a Ryoma driver as quoted from GTI. "Ryoma D-1 Special Tuning model and Ryoma is boasting target distance gains of up to 30 yards." and their woods "The F2, F3 and F5 models all fall right below 0.83 COR and share the same all titanium construction as Ryoma's D-1 Drivers."

Are these Jap designed and produced stuff really more technologically more advance over the mass market made US stuff?

_________________
Callaway Razr Fit Xtreme 10.5* Ahina 60 R
PRGR EGG Spoon 15* MRC Fubuki Alpha 70S
Adams Super Hybrid XTD 19* MRC Fubuki AH R
Adams A12 Pro 23* GD Tour AD UT85 R
Callaway X Hot Pro 5-PW PX95 5.5
Titleist SM4 50*, 54*, 58* DG Spinner
Scotty Studio Select 2012 Golo 33"
Back to top Go down
http://www.idealparts.com.sg
duffader
Hall of Fame Golfer
Hall of Fame Golfer


Posts : 5599
Join date : 2010-01-28

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:13 am

RWL34 normally used for making Knifes....
Back to top Go down
drawbias
Very Active Golfer
Very Active Golfer


Posts : 758
Join date : 2011-01-04
Age : 50
Location : Home soil ......

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:47 am

Extracted from ASTM on application of F1020:

"1020 is one of the very commonly used plain carbon steels. It has a nominal carbon content of 0.20% with approximately 0.50% manganese. It is a good combination of strength and ductility and may be hardened or carburized."

You can obtain other mechanical properties and specs on line if that's of interest to you...

irregardless the country orgin, all mills producing the material have to comply with the code under the monogram of ASTM, ASME, AISI, etc ...... if not their monogram could be revoke. At the end of the day, its more a commercial decision which is vital for the company survival.
Back to top Go down
slinger
Hall of Fame Golfer
Hall of Fame Golfer


Posts : 5692
Join date : 2009-06-19
Age : 47
Location : Wild Wild West

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:57 am

duffader wrote:
RWL34 normally used for making Knifes....


i assume my Ikea knivies aint RWL34......

it still cut pretty well..... so says my wife
Back to top Go down
dmateo
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1103
Join date : 2010-09-19
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 11:47 am

stereotyping. On the original post he worked for the company and obviously that statement is part marketing and biased. So I will disregards it without accompanying facts and statistic.

Japanese people was perceived for their quality, and drive of excelent. Chinese people was perceived for counterfeit product and quality scandal.

The key word is "was perceived". Is it a fact ? I've lived in Japan for a year I can certainly see the culture of excelence having worked with the people there on my career. What about china, I've seen improvement but not to the degree that is up there with the Japanese.
However this is generalisation and limited view on my carreer industry which is IT.

So if we want to get real fact, we need someone with deep pocket buy the products and then do QA test on them by cuting them up, study the iron molecular structure, ask several pros to hit with the club and gather statistical feed back.

As alwasy on all process, the weakest point is the ppl that is performing the process. Process and procedure is only good if they are followed and confirmed. And those are done by the human. So it all boils down to the human factor.

Having said that when playing golf, it's also the same factor that makes the different. If one gives you Luke Donalds's club, would that magically bring down your score by 10 points ? I doubt it will.

Back to top Go down
Lee36328
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1997
Join date : 2011-03-27

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:15 pm

It would appear to a consumer to me, that virtually every product launched nowadays comes with a carefully crafted marketing tale.

I especially enjoyed the creativity of linking ninjas to the core of a graphite shaft. I can't wait to see what comes next.

Putting my creative juices to work... lets see, other historical cultural elements that comes to mind.. seppuku.

Let's see how we can work it in.

"A shaft so good, it will commit suicide by splitting in half if your tee off does not carry more than 200m. We call it seppuku technology. (Products sold are non-refundable, including and especially after activation of the seppuku feature.)"

Or...

"The best shaft our engineers came up with so far, the Seppuku. Seppuku technology means that with this shaft, if you don't carry more than 200m, you might as well commit seppuku, because you suck, not the shaft.

Tagline: If you don't carry past 200m, go kill yourself. Seppuku, the best in Japanese technology."

Sigh... slow friday. And Tiger did not exactly catch fire with his scoring this morning, so...
Back to top Go down
dmateo
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1103
Join date : 2010-09-19
Location : Singapore

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:55 pm

Lee36328 wrote:

"A shaft so good, it will commit suicide by splitting in half if your tee off does not carry more than 200m. We call it seppuku technology. (Products sold are non-refundable, including and especially after activation of the seppuku feature.)"

This is very viable. Just ensure that the shaft is fragile enough that if you duff the shot, it will just shatter into pieces... Smile

so shaft will commit seppuku and you'r wallet will also commit seppuku.
Back to top Go down
Lee36328
Super Active Golfer
Super Active Golfer


Posts : 1997
Join date : 2011-03-27

PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:00 pm

dmateo wrote:
Lee36328 wrote:

"A shaft so good, it will commit suicide by splitting in half if your tee off does not carry more than 200m. We call it seppuku technology. (Products sold are non-refundable, including and especially after activation of the seppuku feature.)"

This is very viable. Just ensure that the shaft is fragile enough that if you duff the shot, it will just shatter into pieces... Smile

so shaft will commit seppuku and you'r wallet will also commit seppuku.

I volunteer you for the post of Chief of Design and Engineering. Make it so.

For marketing, I have a suggestion. Ensure the theme music soundtrack contains lots of gratuitous sounds of knife slicing through flesh.
Back to top Go down
Sponsored content




PostSubject: Re: Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts   Today at 9:30 pm

Back to top Go down
 
Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts
View previous topic View next topic Back to top 
Page 1 of 1
 Similar topics
-
» Forged Irons from Japan vs US or China – The Facts
» R9 forged irons review
» Dynacraft Forged Irons
» How do take care of Forged Irons?
» better with forged irons?

Permissions in this forum:You cannot reply to topics in this forum
Singapore Golf Forum - Golf Republic :: The Pro Shop :: Golf Equipment-
Jump to:  
Friends of Golf RepublicFriends of Golf RepublicFriends of Golf Republic
Copyright © 2009 Golf Republic. All Rights Reserved.