Virtually everyone in the United States has heard of the Frisbee and almost 90 percent of all people in this country have played with one (State Master). At a glance Ultimate is relatively easy to understand, but if one delves deeper into the technicalities, there is a variety of subjects that constitute the makeup of the sport. A couple of these topics include the history of the Frisbee, the production of discs, and the physics that affect them. As Frisbee becomes more and more popular, it is important that one understand the mechanics of this uprising sport.
The History of Ultimate and Frisbees
Many colleges have claimed to be the home of “he who was first to fling,” and, although the origin of the Frisbee is dubious, it is agreed that it was first discovered by a couple of New England college students (Johnson). After eating pies bought from the Frisbie Pie Company, located in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the students took the empty tins and threw them upside down discerning that they could be stably thrown and caught.
In 1955, Walter Frederick Morrison wanted to cash in on this potential money-making toy so he created a new, plastic disc called the Pluto Platter.
Morrison was awarded a US Design Patent for his disc the next year. A California toy company by the name Wham-O gave Pluto Platters the brand name Frisbee because that is what New England students were calling it. The man behind the disc’s success was Ed Headrick, Wham-O’s General Manager, and Vice President of marketing. He altered the disc to make it more stable and easier to be thrown accurately. The sales skyrocketed, and, in 1964, the first “professional” model was put on the market. Headrick then patented the new design and pushed Frisbee as a sport.
He is commonly known as the “Father of Disc Sports” for his contributions to the game and because he later founded the “International Frisbee Association” which began establishing standards and regulations for various activities discs were used in (Wikipedia). The Production of Frisbees To start off, one has to understand what Frisbees are made of before one understands how they are made. Ultimate discs are roughly 20-25 centimeters across with a lip and weigh 175 grams. Frisbees have been made out of polyethylene, a thermoplastic material, since the early 1950s.
When ethylene, a colorless, flammable gas, is heated in the presence of a catalyst, it converts into a polymer. To enhance stability and increase crack resistance, other ingredients are included in the blend. First, the plastic pellets are put into the hopper to be fed into the heating cylinder to be melted. A high speed injection molding process is used to form the actual Frisbee by injecting the fluid plastic materials into the mold. It is then cooled and the only finishing touches that are needed include trimming excess plastic off the mold.
The decoration can be put on three different ways. The most common way to place decoration is hot stamping. The others involve applying ink by using a silk screen or a letter press machine. The weights of the discs are determined by the amount of melted material put into the mold. The wastes of manufacturing are close to none because anything that is cut off or not accepted is thrown back into the regrinding machine to be recycled and mixed into the virgin material. The only quality control required involves checking the new Frisbees for consistent weight and size. Physics of Disc Flight
There are four factors that affect disc flight when not counting any laws or principals: spin, speed, pitch, and bank. When throwing the Disc, spin is created by the torque exerted on the Disc usually with a flick of the wrist or finger. 1. SPIN If the Disc has no spin, than it won’t be stable and it won’t travel far. This is the biggest factor affecting the distance the disc flies; if the disc has an insufficient amount of spin, it will fly some distance and then bank to one side or the other while if it has the perfect amount of spin than it will go straight and float down. 2. Speed is one of the major factors that determine how far a Disc goes and how fast it gets there. If one throws it slowly, it will land short of where they are aiming. 3. Pitch describes how steeply the disc is when thrown. (Whether the edge is pointed up or down during release) If the disc is pointed too far upward it will go up and then back toward the thrower, while on the other hand if the Frisbee is tipped to low it will go straight into the ground.
4. Roll is the opposite of pitch because it refers to the sides being tilted, and it determines flight path; it is used to throw the Frisbee around players between one and their target. The lowest edge of the disc governs the direction the disc will curve. There are two other major concepts that help keep Frisbees flying: Bernoulli Principal and Newton’s Third Law. Bernoulli principal states that there is lower fluid pressure the faster the fluid goes. If a Frisbee is thrown, the fluid (air), goes faster, which in turn lowers the pressure exerted on the disc.
Lift is caused by the difference in pressure between the top of the Frisbee and the bottom. Next, Newton’s Third Law asserts that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a Frisbee is thrown, with upward pitch, the bottom of the disc deflects airflow downward, which in turn, pushes back up causing lift. By examining the forces that act on the Frisbee and how they are created, one can comprehend their role in influencing the discs flying path. Conclusion To summarize, there are various subsections when addressing flying discs in general.
The inventor of the disc is unclear, but it can be traced back to the Frisbie Pie Company’s pie tins. The production is a relatively simple process of melting and molding using a high speed injection machine. The physics of Frisbee flight are complex because there are many forces affecting the disc. The physics are extremely similar to the forces a plane encounters during liftoff and flight. Now that one understands how flying discs work it will probably be easier to grasp the mechanics of this upcoming Olympic sport. Each year, more Frisbees are sold than baseballs, basketballs and footballs put together.