Aluminum vs Wood Bats
Name: Tyler A.
Does an aluminum bat hit a baseball farther than a wooden
bat? If it does, than why?
An aluminum bat may or may not hit a baseball further, depending on who
swings the bat.
Both bats have advantages. First, let us compare the qualities of the two
designs. The only real difference is weight. The aluminum bat is much
lighter than the wooden bat.
Because the aluminum bat is lighter, the batter has more control. It is
easier to make "last-minute adjustments" to his swing. Once a wooden bat is
swinging, adjustments are difficult. Also, less time is needed to get the
aluminum bat moving. The batter can wait just a little bit longer before
deciding how to swing with an aluminum bat.
Because the wooden bat is heavier, it has less "recoil": A wooden bat
moving at the same speed as an aluminum bat will hit harder. A batter who
can get a wooden bat moving fast will hit the ball further, provided he
makes contact at all. Also, a wooden bat doesn't vibrate as much. This is
better for the batter's hands.
Overall, the wooden bat has more potential power, but the aluminum bat is
easier to use. A very experienced player that can tell how the ball is
pitched just as it leaves the pitcher's hand will do better with a wooden
bat. The player that likes a little extra time to decide how to hit, as
well as a little opportunity for slight adjustment, will do better with an
aluminum bat. In the end, it is a matter of personal preference.
Dr. Ken Mellendorf
I do not know the answer, but I do know some of the parameters.
1. The mass of the bat.
2. The mass distribution of the bat.
3. The compressibility of wood vs. aluminum.
4. The dynamic transverse elasticity of wood vs. aluminum. When the ball
hits the bat, both deform. If the bat regains its shape quickly, when the
ball is still "in contact" with the bat, there will be a sling shot effect.
If not the energy of impact will dissipate as heat.
A tough question.
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Update: June 2012