Fresh from the lab, the results from the material testing of the MESHBUSTERS project are below. If you didn’t check out our first episode introducing the concept and test subjects, you should probably start by doing that here: Chapter ONE
Almost all of my original plans for testing had to be reconfigured after I was in the process, so it took a bit longer than expected. I’ll try to explain each test and give some insight into what the numbers could mean. I’ve also included most of my process pictures from the different tests in the gallery below, so if something’s not adding up, go take a peek at those.
The first thing to show you are the weight and water resistance stats. I know there’s a lot of decimals in there, but these things were so close that it was necessary. The process was pretty simple. First, measure the length of the mesh. Weigh the mesh dry, then weigh the mesh after it has been completely submerged in water for 10 seconds. So that it wasn’t dripping wet, I gave each piece of mesh exactly 3 spins to shake off any excess water. I figured that was enough to simulate actively playing with it.
I factored length into the equation, because a longer piece of mesh has more surface to absorb water with than a shorter piece of mesh. That being said, the easiest numbers to look at here are “g/cm DRY” and “Weight Difference.” “g/cm DRY” is the weight per length, or grams per centimeter. This means that even though some mesh was longer than others, you can still compare these numbers directly to see which is the heaviest out of the box. All measurements in the tables below are in grams or centimeters, because the metric system actually makes logical sense.
“Weight Difference” is the difference between “g/cm DRY” and “g/cm WET.” This indicates how much water was absorbed by the mesh while being submerged. This should be a good indicator of how resistant a mesh is to water, since the ones that didn’t absorb any extra weight were obviously less effected by water. After pulling every piece out of the water, I noticed the water beading on the mesh. Some mesh got more beading than others, and it seemed to relate to how easily the water was flung off of it while spinning. This resulted in a lower wet weight.
Flaking could mean a few things, I think. The first is that it’s more likely to get all over my hands and pants and wherever I happen to be stringing. The second is that the excess wax coming off is indicative of how much wax was put on. A ton of wax isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since it can lead to better grip on the ball. Heavy flaking could also mean that it was poorly bonded to the mesh, and will therefore last a shorter amount of time. Meshbusters Part 3 will have to answer that question, as we’ll have to find out how long each piece retains the wax coating and properties. Lastly, it could mean that the wax is more of a dry mixture, or more like a candle than surf wax. This would not be so good for its longevity.
Next up we have the width tests. It took me a good while to figure out the best way to do these, but I think I got it as close as I could. I used two quarter inch dowel rods to stretch the mesh, zig-zagging through the outer diamonds down the sides. I would pre-stretch each piece by hand before throwing them on the dowels, so each piece had the chance to “open up.” To make sure that each piece of mesh was weighted and stretched evenly, I rigged up a couple sturdy hooks out of coat hangers, and then dangled a massive can of beef raviolis in a String King bag. The mesh would be pre-stretched, strung onto the dowels, hung from the top hook, and then weighted by the Chef Boyardee. The distance BETWEEN the two dowel rods was then measured to get the width numbers.
For the WET width test, the mesh was submerged in water for 30 seconds, shaken twice, and then re-stretched by hand. The stretched consisted of 2 “pull-aparts” for each piece of mesh. It was then rehung and weighted with the beef can. The distance between the two dowel rods was again measured, and then compared to the dry number.
Out of all the meshes tested, only the FIRE piece of mesh showed no change in width. On the other end of the spectrum, the GREEN mesh stretched an extra half centimeter after being submerged. Most of the meshes had a slight change after getting wet, but again, we’re talking an average of 3 millimeters here. This is another test where I generally thought the differences between the numbers was negligible, but the mesh was stretched evenly between the dowels. When only one section of your pocket is being stretched, like under the shooters when throwing, these stretching properties will be multiplied.
Our last test of Part Two is the Stickiness test. This test utilized the rubber pellets you get from today’s turf fields to compare each piece of mesh and how sticky it was before and after getting wet. The process went like this:
1. Pellets are scattered evenly in a glass pan
2. The mesh is lightly placed bumpy side down across the bed of pellets.
3. Chef Boyardee is gently set on its side on top of another glass pan, and placed onto the mesh for 10 seconds.
4. Chef and glass pan are removed from top of mesh.
5. Mesh is gently lifted and brushed off into the glass pan.
6. Black pellets are painstakingly counted and recorded.
This test was kind of all over the place. Some mesh got MORE sticky when they got wet, while other mesh got LESS sticky when they got wet. For a general, “how sticky does it feel out of the box” number, check out the dry sticky column. Either way, PURPLE was definitely the most sticky to the touch. There was some mesh, like the RED piece, that hardly seemed to have any stick to it at all. I didn’t get the waxy feeling on my fingers after handling it, and it picked up very few of the turf pellets when dry. The numbers in the chart are the actual count of black pellets that made it into the pan.
The water was room temperature for all of these tests, so there’s a chance that some waxes do better in colder water, while others do better in a warmer water. I otherwise don’t have a explanation as to why the numbers are so random. As you can see, the PURPLE and BLUE meshes definitely had the most adhesion to them in both tests, so if you’re looking for a sticky wax option, that should be one to keep an eye on going forward. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the RED and ORANGE meshes were clearly the least sticky of the bunch.
I’ve included all pictures of the pellet tests below, and they are all titled as to what test they are. I’m not sure if you have to click on them to see that title, but you might be able to just put your mouse on them. (Or add the excellent HoverZoom extension to your browser). Looking through the pictures, my count might be off by 2 or 3 here and there, but I came pretty close. Counting hundreds of black dots gets maddening after a while.
So far, that’s the hard evidence I have on the mesh. The tests tell us a bit about the different pieces of mesh, but I’m still not picking any favorites. Trying really hard to get all the input from the guys after it’s broken in and messed with a bit more before I make any conclusions. Can you guess at this point which company is which? The list is below. They are:
- RED STAR Lacrosse – RED STAR Mesh
- East Coast Dyes – East Coast Mesh
- Ninja Lax – Ninja Mesh
- BLATANT Lax – BLATANT Mesh
- JimaLax – JimaWAX Mesh
- Shrewsbury Strings – Bury Mesh
- Chillax Customs - Chillax Mesh
- POWLAX Shop – POWLAX Mesh
- Lacrosse Unlimited – Gold Mesh
- LaxNwax – LaxNWax Mesh
The next step is to head to the field and get these new STX K18 Heads into the hands of the actual players. If you have any input on the testing so far, or requests for specific field testing going forward, I’m all ears! I promise the next update won’t take as long to get out, either. We have a lot to cover this spring, so keep it tuned to the Playground.
Here’s ALL the pictures: