Understanding Carbon Fiber in Pickleball Paddles: A Simple Guide
Wondering about all the talk around carbon fiber in pickleball paddles? Here's a simple breakdown to make sense of it all.
If you haven't already read our article on the timeline of pickleball paddle technology, it will be a great read to understand the context of this article.
Carbon Fiber in Pickleball Paddles:
When we say a pickleball paddle is made from carbon fiber, we're talking about the paddle's face surface, not the core or other parts. There are various surface materials you can use such as wood, fiberglass, or kevlar. Carbon fiber is a favorite because it's strong yet light. It's a mix of thin carbon fibers and resin. This mix makes the paddle stiff, which means more power since less force is lost when the ball hits the paddle. On the court, this gives you better speed, control, and precise shots. The stiffness also means the paddle responds consistently, helping you improve your game.
Manufacturing of "Raw" Carbon Fiber:
"Raw" carbon fiber paddles have a carbon fiber surface without extra coatings like heavy graphic designs. Raw carbon fiber paddles have been game-changing for pickleball paddles because they offer a rough, textured surface to more generate more spin when hitting a ball. Despite the name "raw," most paddle manufacturers use a peel-ply process to create texture, not actual raw carbon fiber weaves.
Types of Texture Surfaces:
There are three main methods that paddle manufacturers use to create a textured surface for better spin.
- Peel-Ply Method - Using a peel ply in the manufacturing process achieves an embossed carbon fiber with a rough surface finish.
- Fiber Weave - Like weaving bed sheets, but for an inherent rough texture. We chose this method for our performance paddle due to the texture durability over peel-ply.
- Granular Paint - Granular paint can be used for paddles that have a graphic design print on the entirety of the paddle face. Since the carbon fiber layer has been covered by a graphic design print, granular paint can used on top of the graphic design layer to retrospectively add texture. Granular paint can also be used in conjunction with peel-ply or fiber weave. Our Edgeless 18k has granular paint applied over the fiber weave for even more texture.
Important Carbon Fiber Terms in Pickleball
- Carbon Fiber Grades (T300, T700, T800)
These grades show how much carbon is in the fibers. More carbon means more strength but can also mean the paddles are more likely to break. So, balance is key. We found T700 to be the best mix of durability and performance.
Carbon Fiber Weaves (3k, 18k, 3D 18k)
The terms "3k", "18k", and "3D 18k" in pickleball paddles refer to the fiber count in each bundle. The higher the number, the denser the fiber bundle. Different types of weaves affect how the paddle grips the ball and spins it. Nearly all paddles on the market come with a texture that aligns vertically, limiting their spin potential on vertical shots. However, our unique "3D 18k" weave breaks this norm by incorporating fibers in three different directions, not just vertical. This innovative multi-directional weave ensures superior spin from any hitting angle, enhancing your game.
And there you have it! A simple look at carbon fiber in pickleball paddles. Whether you're a pro or just starting, understanding these basics can help you choose the right paddle for your game.