Golf is a challenging sport, and the practice of teeing a ball up is used by professionals and amateurs alike. Designed to give players better access to the ball and, therefore a slight playing advantage, many different tees are available, including 3D printed golf tees. But are they any good?
3D printed golf tees work, provided you use the right kind of filament. Though PLA is readily available, it’s brittle and will likely break after one shot. Polycarbonate and TPU, on the other hand, are known to be very robust and have excellent impact resistance, meaning they should last longer.
This article will expand on how to make the best 3D-printed golf tees. We’ll then look into why they may or may not be worth the time to make.
How To Make Durable 3D Printed Golf Tees
The biggest issue with 3D printing a golf tee is knowing it’s got a short shelf life. Many golf tees only last one hit, which means you could spend hours designing and printing a set of tees, only to use them all during a single 18-round game.
That said, so long as they have the right shape – a long pin with a tapered end to puncture the ground and a big enough surface on the top to hold the ball -they will work just as well as regular golf tees.
However, the material used will dictate how well the tee works and how long it lasts.
Use Polycarbonate Filament
PLA is one of the most well-known and widely used filaments for hobbyists in 3D printing. It’s easy to work with, affordable, comes out clean, and is quite durable.
However, it’s also quite brittle. That means it’s more likely to break after a single shot, which is wasteful after spending time designing and printing.
In contrast, Polycarbonate (PC) filament is known for its strength and durability. In fact, it’s often used in many high-impact items, including:
- Bullet-proof glass
- Phone cases
- Scuba masks
- Riot gear
PC prints can be bent without cracking, making them ideal for golf tees that need to be pressed into the hard earth. Plus, it has very high impact resistance, meaning it should last longer than a single golf hole.
However, PC cannot be used on every 3D printer as it has a higher glass transition temperature rate than most other filaments. Where multiple affordable 3D printers can easily handle the heat required to print PLA (190°C – 220°C/374°F – 428°F), PC has an extruding temperature closer to 260°C (500°F).
So, if you want to use this robust filament, you’ll likely need to make some adjustments, such as using an all-metal hotend.
Check your manufacturer guidelines regarding filaments and the temperatures your 3D printer can handle before using PC to print golf tees.
Use 100% Infill
When 3D printing, designers will often adjust the level of infill based on the overall design of the model and its intended use.
For example, a small trinket designed to sit on a shelf does not need to be strong. So, it could be made with very little material and infill to save on time and materials.
On the other hand, something that will be used regularly and possibly even put under pressure, such as a carabiner, needs 100% infill to ensure its durability.
So, in terms of golf tees, it would be best to print them with 100% infill. They’re designed to be hit at incredible speeds with wooden or iron clubs. If you skimp on the infill, they’ll probably shatter on impact.
Plus, they’re so small that the added material costs will be negligible.
Focus on Function Over the Design
As fun as it may be to create a golf tee with a coil instead of a thin pin, you’ll want to ensure the design you choose is functional.
For example, if you don’t have enough surface area, the ball may not sit well on the top. Similarly, without a proper pin, the tee may not stand upright or puncture the grass as well.
The best design is one similar to the tees already available. So, if you’re set on printing your own, I suggest keeping the pin slim and plain and using the top to be more creative. That could include adding a baby Yoda head to the top or a set of hands holding the ball.
Just remember that the more detailed the design, the longer it will take to print and the more material you’ll use. And since golf tees are not designed to last much more than a few holes, you might not want to go overboard.
Why People 3D Print Golf Tees
3D printed golf tees work just like any other golf tee, be it plastic or wood. Of course, being 3D printed, they can be designed in any way you choose.
For example, where a standard tee looks much like a thick nail, 3D printing allows the maker to add color and more detail to the design.
In the following video, you’ll see how one designer made their tees with crown-shaped tops for better stability:
Furthermore, if you check out thingiverse.com, you’ll find golf tees with superhero or baby Yoda heads, skulls, and other unique extras on the pins.
The Argument for Regular Golf Tees
Regular golf tees are usually made out of wood or plastic.
Wooden golf tees are typically easier to use when driving them into the ground, as they’re much stronger and will not break as you push down on the head.
On the other hand, plastic golf tees can be more flexible and may bend as you push them into the grass. That said, plastic tees typically last longer overall than wooden tees.
Still, some tees are bought knowing they’re single-use, while others are expected to last a few holes. Depending on your level of play, though, you may prefer to use a new tee every time.
Many players will discard a tee to ensure a good hit if a tee is damaged on the first stroke. However, others are more frugal and will reuse a tee if it appears to be in working condition.
With that in mind, it might not seem worth the effort to make 3D-printed tees, as they’re not likely to last more than a single round of golf.
Instead, this Pride Professional Tee System from Amazon.com costs less than $10 for 135 tees. At under 10 cents a tee, buying in bulk makes more financial sense.
3D printed golf tees work just as well as any other kind of golf tee, provided you have the right design. If it doesn’t have a thin pin to puncture the earth, it won’t stay put as you swing, and if you don’t add enough surface area on top, the ball may roll-off.
Also, if you want the tee to last, you’ll want to use a more durable filament, such as Polycarbonate, which is very impact resistant and far less likely to break after one shot.
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I started 3D printing since 2013 and have learned a lot since then. Because of this I want to share my knowledge of what I have learned in the past years with the community. Currently I own 2 Bambulab X1 Carbon, Prusa SL1S and a Prusa MK3S+. Hope you learn something from my blog after my years of experience in 3D printing.