TINLEY PARK, IL - Freezing maple wood bats to 310 degrees below zero makes them 25 percent stronger, says a team of inventors. Greg Kendra, of Conifer, CO and James Cortez, of Brookfield, IL, filed for a patent on the CK Process, and have asked Major League Baseball, the governing body of the professional sport, to endorse it as a way to reduce cracking in maple wood bats, and to perform as safely as ash bats.
The "Cryogenically treated wooden baseball bat" (patent application number 20100307170 filed in December 2010, involves deep freezing standard wooden baseball bats at a controlled time/temperature cycle, "thereby altering he alignment of the internal molecular/crystalline lattice structure of the wood, thereby relieving the internal residual stresses of said wooden baseball bats, similar to the process of tempering metals."
While the tendency of maple wood baseball bats triggered the interest of Cortez and Kendra to develop the process, it may also have other applications where prevention of wood cracking is critical.The patent calls for a 24-hour freeze, and a controlled thawing of the wood - a process the two compare to tempering metal.
Cortez and Kendra submitted bats treated with their process to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Products Lab in Madison, WI for testing and analysis. This is the same Forest Products Lab used by the Major League Baseball organization to study a rash of maple bat cracking after the 2008 baseball season concluded.
The lab determined that baseball bats were being weakened by miscalculation of the slope of the wood grain: it should run precisely in the long direction of the bat. Off by just a few degrees, and the maple bats are weakened. Since the results were published, there has been a 50 percent decrease in wood bat cracking incidents, according to Major League Baseball.
Here is the patent application:
A cryogenic treatment for wooden baseball bats to provide a new, cryogenically treated wooden baseball bat that has many of the advantages of the traditional and alternative material bats mentioned heretofore, but with a significant novel feature, that of having been cryogenically treated.
The result is a new, cryogenically treated wooden baseball bat which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any of the prior art, either alone or in combination thereof because cryogenic treatment is typically implemented upon metallic objects and not on wooden objects. The process relates to a process/method/system of manufacture wherein the same can be utilized for improving the strength of standard wooden baseball bats via cryogenic treatment, thereby reducing the occurrence of breakage of said bats.
This is intended to increase the safety of players and fans through the reduced risk of being struck by sharply pointed projectiles/shrapnel that results when breakage does occur. The inventive process includes taking the standard produced wooden baseball bats and systematically and methodically processing said bat via a cryogenic process/treatment.
Note that we are aware that a similar cryogenic process has been utilized with metallic baseball bats, but never, to our knowledge, has this process been attempted upon standard wooden baseball bats. The CK Process® involves cryogenically treating (deep freezing) standard wooden baseball bats at a controlled time/temperature cycle, thereby altering the alignment of the internal molecular/crystalline lattice structure of the wood, thereby relieving the internal residual stresses of said wooden baseball bats, similar to the process of tempering metals.
The CK Process® in no way adversely alters the bat and the bat remains within the current regulations and specifications required under Major League Baseball
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