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How Poles Are Made

How Poles Are Made

Step through how poles are made at the UST-Essx Mamiya Factory in Fort Worth, Texas.


A vaulting pole is made up of fiberglass and it is rolled on a mandrel. The first wrap or wraps is the hoop wraps. They provide strength to the frame of the pole and contribute to the HOOP strength of the pole. Alignment of the mandrel's soft side, how the mold sags and a marked starting place for every pole made on that mandrel is very important for calculating the soft side and pre-curve of the pole! One may use a bi-directional weave of glass or use a longitudinal weave cut sideways and applied to provide strength around the pole.

A carbon wrap can be applied at this point after the Hoop Wrap to further stiffen the pole with CARBON for a little more in costs, yet much less weight than standard glass!

The next set is usually the body wrap or stiffeners to the body of the pole. It is a rectangle piece of glass that usually requires a wrapping of 1 to 3 wraps to form the body of the pole. If one is using carbon, less wraps of this material can be applied. It is crucial that the starting place be determined to reduce an event called twisting.

A spiral or wrap of glass or carbon will be used depending on the stiffness or brand or type of pole being built. The angle of the spiral determines how much stiffness contributes to the pole. One can also wrap a straight strip of carbon around the pole to provide strength to the pole. This will allow the pole come back much faster than a non-carbon pole, returning to vertical faster than the vaulter can handle. Incorrect use of this lay-up will result in a pole that will throw you really high in the air, but reduce your depth of penetration on top of the bar. For years, one company made fast returning poles only to result in vaulters clearing the bar by 1-2 feet but having to volz or touch the bar to keep the crossbar away so they would not land on it. Many vaulters cleared their highest bar only to bring the bar down with lack of penetration on top of the jump! Making a pole lighter, as well as a pole that will time with the vaulter's jump, is a very difficult challenge that ESSX has most certainly met.

Then a sail wrap that is shaped to provide additional properties at critical points in the structure of the pole that the other layers do not contribute. This sail wrap will vary from each manufacturer and for each type of pole being built.

butt or reinforced area is applied to the pole to support the pole as it is removed from the box or to add strength at the butt for planting the pole. Some put very little importance on this wrap. Essx uses carbon to get the strongest wrap with the least amount of weight, which is crucial at the very end of the pole. One manufacturer builds the glass up in order to fit their pole tip line. With the ESSX FLAME tip, you may need a little grip tape to secure the pole tip, but the end of the pole is attractively light!

In a perfect pole design process, we measure the sail wrap as all other properties stay relatively the same in perspective to the vaulter needs. Using a design method that changes the sail, and the body to get the stiffness required throws the vaulter off in his timing when moving from one pole to another.

The pole is at this point ready to be placed into an oven and heated by various methods such as high-pressure steam to heat and cure the pole and/or heated oil, which is more efficient and controllable.

Once the pole is constructed with its pattern, the end result is a pattern unique to each pole and specific glass properties unique to each brand. It is tested to insure the pole is built properly and sound. Our method is 100% inclusive and we maintain a record of each test.

Once the pole has passed the flex test, it is then measured on a butt sail deflection machine for relative stiffness. A flex number is a very general, non-scientific way of comparing the stiffness of a pole to all the other poles without regard to pattern and glass properties are more efficient and controllable.