Engineered in Baltimore: Meet STX Engineer Sam Lacey
After decades of innovation in multiple sports, our R&D team set their collective minds and effort on Ice Hockey. Our entire team wanted to challenge the norm of the traditional hockey stick design. The Surgeon Rx2, the newest STX hockey stick, really pushes the boundaries from a design and performance perspective. It provides players increased control on the ice through Puregrip™ and with a lighter blade utilizing our Pureblade™ technology.
I sat down with our Composite Materials Engineer, Sam Lacey. We chatted about how he got started in sports equipment development, where the inspiration for the Rx2 came from and where he sees hockey sticks headed in the future.
Sam Lacey uses his background in mechanical engineering to create innovative gear that helps athletes perform at the highest level.
Matt Hoppe: How did you get started in research and development?
Sam Lacey: Growing up playing a variety of sports and enjoying math and science in high school, I decided to find a career in sports equipment design. In college I studied mechanical engineering to learn the fundamental principles of physics as well as material science since new materials often drive innovation in sporting goods. Working in product R&D is very rewarding because it provides a direct link between athletes and their equipment.
Matt: How do NHL athletes impact stick design at STX?
Sam: We’re fortunate to have access to pro athletes who have enough skill to differentiate relatively small nuances in ice hockey stick performance like balance point or blade stiffness. We seek the insight and validation of our NHL Players for all of our products. In the case of the Surgeon Rx2 line, early in the process it was clear the Puregrip™ shaft geometry design was very well received by elite NHL players.
Matt: Where did the inspiration for the Surgeon Rx2 come from?
Sam: The goal for the Surgeon Rx2 line was to come up with a technology that could provide differentiation from the other products in the market. Exploring geometry is commonly done on STX lacrosse handles but the shape of the ice hockey shaft had not changed in decades, so there was a real opportunity. After sharing some rough initial prototypes with hockey players it was clear based on their excitement that there was a willingness to adopt this kind of geometry change.
Multiple Surgeon Rx2 hockey stick prototypes with Pureblade technology.
Matt: How can the Puregrip™ Profile benefit players of all levels?
Sam: The Surgeon Rx2 stick is designed to provide a benefit in terms of tactile feel. As a result, this model is targeted towards players who are seeking increased puck control. The game of hockey requires subtle puck handling skills and a more ergonomic ice hockey shaft shape increases this ability. In addition to the unique shape, the Surgeon Rx2 has exceptional playable weight/balance and a responsive blade for quick release shooting which the Surgeon player prefers.
The ergonomic design on the Surgeon Rx2 fills the void in your hand left by a traditional shaped hockey stick.
Matt: What is the design process like at STX when you are developing something as innovative as the Puregrip ™ shaft shape?
Sam: The Surgeon Rx2 is a result of an extensive prototyping and testing process. We start with sketching then CAD (Computer Aided Design) modeling iterations, which allows us to see the product in 3D and make quick design manipulations before moving to the next step. After CAD design we utilize our in-house 3D printer to evaluate a wide-range of physical samples. These samples are taken to the field and we seek feedback from players of all levels, thus narrowing down a product concept to a small number of more desirable designs. Our product and design teams then work to finalize the structural details and graphics. The Surgeon Rx2 development was the result of extensive modeling, testing, refinement and consumer feedback. Without a doubt the Surgeon Rx2 is one of the most extensively researched projects in the history of STX.
The R&D team at STX created different stick prototypes to determine the ideal shape for the Surgeon Rx2.
Matt: Where do you see ice hockey stick and product development headed for STX?
Sam: The game will keep getting faster and the demands of the elite level player will become even greater. We expect to continue to push the boundaries of what is deemed traditional and standard. We want to take inspiration from all sports to inform design innovation and performance advantages to hockey equipment. It’s very exciting to be able to have a direct impact on the performance of players and the game of ice hockey.
Practice your stick skills with the new Surgeon Rx2. To learn a drill that will challenge your hands and focus when shooting, click here.