INFERNO has been a massive hit since its release in November 2016, and the entire INFERNO series are still in short supply in Japan. Such a hit product is extremely rare in the sports industry, so it was even featured in an economic newspaper article in Japan.
For INFERNO athletes and lovers, this is how GOSEN developed your racket.
“In recent years, GOSEN has been developing high-strength, lightweight, and thin racket frames mainly for a smoother swing. Based on this know-how, we thought it possible to develop a high-strength racket with a slightly thicker frame without compromising a good swing. I decided to develop a new racket from scratch by breaking away from the preconceived ideas.” Hirokazu (Hiro) Kishimoto - Development Manager of INFERNO, started to talk about the development story of INFERNO.
In fact, over the past 20 years, the badminton racket design has not changed much. However, many players prefer over 30lb strings even for the lightweight rackets, exceeding the appropriate tension in reality. Since it was necessary to meet these requirements, there were more hurdles than expected to renew the frame shape from the conventional products,
“It was more important than anything else to feel a clear superiority than any other rackets."
Collaboration with the Manufacturing Team
Hiro tried every possibility, such as modifying the thickness of conventional frames, changing grommet patterns, and developing new materials to obtain strength. Among them, there was also a design in which the frame was mounted upside down on the shaft, and the width of the upper half of the frame was extremely thick.
During various tries and errors, Hiro was reminded of the high perfection of the existing frame shape. None of the prototype designs achieved the expected strength and rigidity, and in the hitting test, only negative discomfort remained from the new design.
When the initial development stage was nearing a dead end, Hiro had an opportunity to meet with the manufacturing team. Until now, development had often been one-way, in which design and spec were instructed to the manufacturing team. So he tried actively incorporating opinions from the manufacturing team members for new development. Overcoming the standpoints of development and manufacturing, a 3D drawing of a concept model caught Hiro's eye.
Impossible to Commercialize
“It was only a concept model and seemed impossible for commercialization. We would never consider this concept model if we had taken the previous development method.” But Hiro was already fascinated by the unusual design.
“We started considering the possibility of commercialization of this shape without internal corporate circumstances, costs, or preconceptions. As a result, we found that this wavy shape can withstand stress in various directions. There is also less air resistance. Furthermore, the frame cross-section at various places met the requested conditions."
However, it was clear that the development period would be longer than other rackets.
"I was strongly confident I would use this racket if this design were released during my active playing career. So, I had a strong sense of mission that I must make a reality.”
This way, the development and manufacturing teams began working together to commercialize an unprecedented racket.