Inside Easton Sports R&D Lab the Future is Sweet

Burbank, CA March 14, 2007: On a busy industrial road in the heart of the San Fernando Valley in a non-descript building with high security, a group of men are conducting high-tech tests involving cannons, projectiles, robotics and complex equations. They have one important mission in mind: baseball.

The engineers and technicians at Easton Sport’s R&D Lab in Van Nuys, California are testing their latest sports equipment for durability, performance and handling. When it comes to making baseball bats, each new model goes through a rigorous set of tests using state of the art equipment.

From the cannon room to the bat-swinging robot to the bat handle-breaking machine, The Futures Channel takes students behind the scenes in their latest movie, “Testing Bats.”

One of Easton’s main concerns when they are developing new bats is the “sweet spot,” which is the part of the bat that provides the most effective contact with the ball. “Anybody that’s hit a ball on the sweet spot knows what feels like. It’s a nice, clean, solid, sweet feeling,” says Al Murphy, the Test Laboratory Manager. “The object is to make a bat with the widest sweet spot. A player can’t always hit the ball perfectly on the sweet spot every time so what we try to do is try to make the sweet spot as wide as possible.”

To ensure complete accuracy, the engineers require that each test be done under the exact same conditions every time. “Our standard tests all have very strict procedures that we follow, so that we can test the same part the same way every time,” Murphy explains. “We want to maintain the temperature, we want to maintain the humidity in the room so that we don’t add variables into the test that could affect the results.”

Being able to provide students with examples of math and science being used in the real world can be just the inspiration they need to succeed in those subjects while in school.

Cynthia Mooring, a middle school teacher in Maryland, has used Futures Channel movies in her classroom. “I used to get the question all the time – why do I need to learn this? I have a chart on the wall that shows examples of jobs that use math,” explains Mooring. “But to actually see it in operation brings it to life a lot better than looking at a chart on the wall. The students know math is everywhere, but it’s a real eye opener to see the math that’s in all these jobs.”

For Murphy and his team, developing bats is truly a science. “If someone wanted to get a job in this arena I would recommend that first of all they have an interest in sports and that they also have an interest in math and science,” Murphy says. “Finding new ways to test products and determine if they perform at the level that they should perform – it’s all about math and science.”

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