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Carbon Darting

Posted by UniBoffin at 10:18 on 28th June 2012 in UniBlog

Carbon Darting

So the Unicorn 2013 range has been launched with so many new goodies that it would be remiss of me not to talk about at least one or two of them here. And that means there must be what you might call a commercial break in my “Technique Spotlight” features. But never fear, they will be back - otherwise I’ll doubtless be in trouble from, among others, Kevin, Jeff, and Eddie (which reminds me, I’ll relay your point about points, etc, to Unicorn, Eddie).

And whilst on the subject of posts to my last blog, it’s also worth mentioning that Kevin’s contention about the possibly greater consistency of players who use torpedo-shaped barrels rather than “pencils” is very much on-topic for today’s subject – so more on that later!

But first I’d like to thank all last time’s correspondents and commend checking out their posts, which include Pete’s perceptive views on control of game pace by John Lowe and Phil Taylor, Mihai’s find of a nice link on the former (in which John explains the reasons for that change of stance I mentioned - fortunately looks like I was more-or-less right on that!), and Glen’s real enthusiast’s insight into equipment developments in darts over the years.

A nice coincidence here is Glen’s mention of some 1939 Silver Comets; a coincidence because what should have just appeared on this website, available for anyone to acquire? Yes, a set of 1937 Silver Comets - well, Heritage Range replicas of them, anyway - featured together with a portrait of Unicorn founder Frank Lowy (see link below). And, as Glen says, it’s not difficult to see a family resemblance – not just between the portrait and the snapshots of current Big Boss, grandson Edward, that occasionally appear on this website, but between Frank’s Silver Comets and a modern set of Sigma 950s or 970s, developed under the patronage of Edward and his father Stanley.

Which just goes to show that, as I’ve said before, materials science may advance, brass may give way to tungsten, but the laws of aerodynamics don’t change. And neither, if I may add a personal comment, does the Lowy family’s support of both innovation and tradition. So I’m sure Edward will have been very pleased with Glen’s generous return of those Silver Comets!

But back to my point about advances in materials, the Unicorn 2013 range is a good example of that as carbon fibre features prominently for the first time, not least in new ranges of shafts, including a Sigma end-loader – no side-loader yet as carbon fibre SlikStik tops would be (even more than polycarbonate, Pete!) rather prone to brittle fracture. Still, never say never – I only started working on that problem in the 1980s!

You’ll hopefully forgive me if I leave the wider subject of carbon fibre shafts for another time and move on to focus on a new barrel in the 2013 range that was designed specifically to exploit the exceptional strength to weight ratio of that material - the new Sigma Super Pro Carbon 95% tungsten (in 21, 23, and 25gms). And this is where I return to Kevin’s contention about the possibly greater consistency of players who use torpedo-shaped barrels rather than “pencils”.

As I’ve explained before, the lower moment of inertia of well-designed torpedo barrels allows them to straighten more quickly in flight, which in turn means they need a smaller flight for a given level of stability, which can be good for accuracy. That not only tends to support Kevin’s still-debatable argument, but is also why the original all-tungsten Sigma 970 and 950 barrels are torpedo-shaped.

Unfortunately, as I’ve also explained before, many players find a more parallel-sided dart easier to throw, which is, after all, a rather more important quality than any subtlety of aerodynamic performance. After causing me much head-scratching, this fact eventually resulted in the development of the lightweight, low-inertia, Zero-D screw-in titanium nose cone which enables the Sigma XL to have a longer, less curved, barrel than the 970s and 950s and also permits the Sigma 4 to have a front-biased grip. Even then, the level of stability required in a Sigma One is unobtainable in these designs, so they are only available in a Pro version (and, for the XL, the yet less forgiving Super Pro).

But for 2013 both a Sigma nose cone and shaft are available in carbon fibre, which is not only lighter than titanium, but is even lighter than the ultra-light alloy of the Super Pro magnesium shaft. This lightness has allowed the Sigma Super Pro Carbon to feature a long, positive, completely parallel, grip. Like the XL Super Pro, it won’t be the most forgiving dart in the world, but my hope is that, if you’re good enough and prefer a “pencil” dart, it will do the business for you.

Tungsten may be Swedish for “heavy stone”, but darts technology is definitely not in the stone age, carbon darting can tell you that!

The 1937 Silver Comet

There are 8 comments to this post

Posted by Kenneth at 12:22 on 28th June 2012

A little bit disappointed. I'm waiting for a carbon side load stem, but it dosen't release! Why not to make one in carbon base, with orginal plastic top?

Posted by Fuzzi0n at 13:15 on 28th June 2012

Appreciate the blog as ever UniBoffin, always an interesting read.

Regarding the carbon side load shafts, I'd have thought the only way to do those is with a carbon base and the normal plastic tops otherwise you'll end up breaking the things after every throw. Possibility of those in the future?

You may or may not recall I asked about short silk stick shafts with replaceable tops around the time when last years new range came out, would still love to see those being released at some point.

As for the normal carbon shafts, would be good to see those in different lengths too, considering I have a habit of breaking most short plastic shafts and bending alloy ones I'd like to see if I can pull it off with the carbon ones too.

Nice 2013 range, a few products really caught my eye, good work by Unicorn.

Posted by Warren Ackary at 01:22 on 29th June 2012

Good read as usual!

Love the 2013 range and am thrilled to see the Silver Comet reintroduced!
Been reading the above replies yet I have my reservations.. I would like to see a carbon shaft with a plastic top (purely for the genral publics financial costs) I do beleive the slik stik will still be a great seller as it has been proven so since day 1!

As for "torpedo" Darts.. I say YES! Alot of people do not realise that there is less energy and muscle wear & tear using them.
Ok, thanks to Richard Lowy in 1985 for sending me my first set of Tungsten darts (being the John Lowe barrels) I did realise through the years that the throw was causing a few aches and this of course is personal but may shed light on something others have.
When I went to my first set of front loaded darts.. I realised that the weight of the nose area itself was doing alot of my work for me and thus I didnt have as much muscle strain.
Some people will dispute this (as you do) that "pencil" darts are better, each to thier own but I am touching on a point that you can throw "pencil' darts for years yet why not try front loaded barrels? See the difference for yourself BUT be warned.
You may have to change the length of point from long to medium (perhaps the Unicorn center grooves points) as the direcion of the front loaded barrels will travel up then dramatically down so if you are using long points you may miss your target by millimetres (both under & over).
I stand my ground on this and have gone back to where being most comfortable at the line is. I would be hurling a "pencil" dart not throwing it.

Worth a try as would be the change in Carbon Graphite as per my post :)

Posted by Jeff Cruz at 05:02 on 5th July 2012

It will be quite interesting to try front-loaded dart barrels...but getting into the feel of it may take more time and more trial-and-error in finding a good set-up for the darter...
I think Eric Bristow's thought that if it works for you, don't change it may apply...but it also bring a thought about the great Phil Taylor's evolution ever since his first World Title...change must be for the better...just my thoughts...

Posted by Mad John at 14:12 on 6th July 2012

All Hail The Uniboffin Again

Delighted to see the arrival of Unicorn carbon fiber. I look forward to obtaining a set of the latest Sigmas. There have been carbon fiber shafts out there but these new ones from Unicorn are the first total carbon fiber with no other materials.
I would think they are even lighter. This is good.

After this engineering marvel if you get carbon fiber loaded on the boat to America quickly I support both a pay
raise and a vacation for the Uniboffin.

Posted by John at 09:16 on 17th July 2012

I can understand all the excitment about carbon... but it seems Unicorn is a little slow.... we are into ceramic and magnesium shaft etc...
ceramic tips too... to transit between soft-tip and 'steel-tip' without affecting the balance of the dart..

Posted by Hays Paterson at 21:19 on 18th July 2012

Well digested the vast sum of the last five tomes and am back up to speed.

As always an enlightening romp through the in's and out's of Planet Darts.

I often find it encouraging and entertaining as well to set aside an afternoon to devour and decode all this data.

Just call me Oliver, " More please!"

Posted by ADRIAN at 03:29 on 8th January 2013

Please can you tell me will their be soon some unicorn short carbon fibre stems .
because at the moment they only do them in medium thanks.

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