Like many tools, instruments, or sports equipment, flowtoys are used in ways that push the limits of what is physically possible. The ideal poi would have a leash with zero mass, and the head would have all its weight concentrated at the end, have bright, long-lasting electronics inside that can handle 100mph impacts yet be soft as a pillow. The ideal shaft for an LED staff would also have zero mass, yet be perfectly rigid under 200lbs of force, be under 1” diameter and transparent.
Designing awesome props requires a careful consideration of features, balancing durability with performance handling, brightness with battery size and life, strength and rigidity with softness on impact, and quality components and high design with affordability.
The Composite System was born of the need for a high performance system of staffs and batons that were thin and lightweight yet durable and rigid for optimum performance handling. All this is made possible with high-tech materials typically used in the aerospace and racing industries like carbon fiber, custom elastomer super grip, and 3d-printed compression connectors. The Composite System was 1 giant leap towards effortless flow and brought high-tech materials to the props world.
The composite props and the challenges:
- 15mm contact staffs and 12mm iso-batons (Nov 2013)
- composite swinging clubs and flower sticks (March 2014)
- lumina twirl baton (July 2014)
- composite contact wand (Nov 2014)
- dragon disc staff (June 2015)
- composite sticks (June 2018)
The greatest challenge in producing the composite system was ensuring a consistent and reliable source of carbon fiber. We offer 15mm and 12mm shafts, and we've experienced immense difficulty in finding carbon fiber of consistent wall thickness and straightness. Every batch we receive needs very stringent quality control, oftentimes we've had to reject half our order (and often eat the cost).
With the composite system, we began our forays into 3d-printing, which at the time was very fussy. We built and maintained several in-house printers to print the compression connectors, and overtime determined that it was too much to take on, and outsourced printing of the connectors to a friend's 3d-printing shop, which for a time was housed in the flowspace. More recently 3d-printing has become much less onerous and more advanced materials are now available - we have moved 3d-printing back in-house and are now printing newly designed connectors with more high-tech materials.
While outwardly the composite system hasn't changed much since its launch, we've made many incremental improvements to the material choices and system design, increasing internal wall thickness to increase rigidity and minimize bounce in some props, while updating the compression connector design to improve durability and modularity.
The latest addition to our composite system family are the composite sticks - a new staff designed specifically for multi-staff manipulation, contact, body-rolls, catches, balancing and juggling. With the magic of carbon fiber, 3d-printed cap adaptors, and the beautiful silicone flowcap providing just enough weight for optimum manipulation, ridged design features for balancing and catches that also prevent your staff from rolling away when you drop it ;) Flowtoys composite sticks are also the first non-LED staffs that we're offering, providing a more entry-level pricepoint to customers who want high quality props with great service :)