Honeycomb Cores and Pickleball
WHAT IS A HONEYCOMB CORE?
Honeycomb cores are man-made structures designed to balance durability and strength but also be light. They can be compressed into flat or curved structures, and if the honeycomb skeleton is structured properly, the honeycomb can even curve without any form of heating or melting. Honeycombs are usually made by cutting the whole for the cells into a flat block, slicing excess material, and detailing the support of the structure. With modern methods, a layer of honeycomb can be asymmetrically stacked on a previous layer to and heated to join into a single structure.
HONEYCOMB SKINS AND MATERIALS
Anything from paper to steel can be formed into a honeycomb shape. A paper honeycomb structure can be dipped in resin, and when it dries, has a hard structure that can still be slightly molded or cut. This concept is called a “skin” when a scaffold-like honeycomb is created so another material can be molded onto it. Often foam is a cheap scaffold material, and plastics or thin metals can be used as skins.
Honeycomb cells can be stretched under heat or pressure to create asymmetrical cells. This provides more than just visual differences: a non-circular cell can have better performance when angled correctly.
HONEYCOMBS AND PICKLEBALL
Because honeycombs can be rigid yet light, they are an excellent core for pickleball paddles. Virtually every pickleball paddle uses a honeycomb core, made of one or more of these three materials: nomex, aluminum, or polymer. Construction wise, nomex is a paper dipped in a resin skin, while aluminum is molded as a single piece. Polymers are a mix of the two, since they are occasionally skinned, but by another layer of the same material, not a foreign one. While nomex is hard, and aluminum is light, polymer cores get the best of both worlds, and have taken the pickleball world by storm. A full explanation of these materials and their pros and cons is linked here, but it is safe to say if you want the best, you want a polymer core for your pickleball paddle.
Thanks for reading.
Keep playing “below the net.”