Thinking about Butterfly blades, often series such as “Zhang Jike” or “Timo Boll” come to mind. These special-made blades with special fibers like Arylate-Carbon or ZL-Carbon; with printed blade heads and colorful handle design.
But times are changing, as Butterfly nowadays starts to think in new ways – starting with the Introduction of the new Butterfly Logo at the World Championships in Tokyo 2014. Another milestone has been passed with the innovative HADRAW blade series made from beautiful natural wood.
HADRAW design – “simple, natural beauty”
Butterfly Art Director Tsuyoshi YAMAZAKI comments on the design philosophy of the HADRAW series:
„For 67 years now, Butterfly has been crafting blades with outstanding quality. This is a simply put, fact, yet very important”
This simplicity is at the core of Butterfly’s new ways, and shows itself in the new HADRAW series – a new “flagship” blade series made from simple, natural wood. This not only affects the blade, but also the packaging design – typically “made in Japan”, Yamazaki remembers:
„Development of the package alone went on for over a year. This showcases the dedication and effort on our part.”
An important detail is the flourescent holographic lense on the backside of the handle, differing in colour from series to series.
HADRAW – designed for the highest ambition
„Our main goal is always to create blades which help a player exhibit their full potential. This counts for professional and amateur players alike. Butterfly is not a brand producing toys for children, but rather high quality products for ambitious table tennis players of all ages.
(Noted: If you want to make sure you have purchase an original product outside of official butterfly partner stores, you can check these identification numbers on blade and package and send us a message to firstname.lastname@example.org We are happy to confirm the authenticity of your product.)
HADRAW — with the power of Wenge wood
“Wenge” wood is hart, yet elastic and has tremendous repulsion property usually not found among natural wood. It makes up the outer veneers of the HADRAW SR and VR models.
„After long searches and testing we decided for the Wenge veneers, not only for their advantages for the game, but also for the beautiful colour and high-class haptic effect.”
KANAI about the handle:
“Blade head and handle are both made from natural wood, connecting them to one single unit. This can be felt, even if the handle has no immediate effect on the performance of the blade.
Developing the handle took alot of effort, even if it seems like a simple detail. We have especially focused on the haptic effect. The material used in the handle is more pure than any used before. It fits perfectly to the hand and feels great.”
HADRAW — what do the names and model numbers stand for?
HADRAW is not the first blade series made from natural wood. Very popular blades, such as the “Korbel” or “SK7” serve as predecessor. Interest in these products is increasing, partly because special-fiber blades are available in ample numbers.
HADRAW blade series represents the new generation of all-wood blades. The name is a combination of “HAD”, abbreviation of the english word “Head” (pronounced “haddo” in japanese) and the word “RAW”, meaning raw, unrefined, raw wood taken from the most precious wood from a tree – the head part.
The letter “R” in HADRAW VR and SR models represents the word “Revolution”. In these models the special wood Wenge is used for the first time in a Butterfly blade.
„S” is the first letter of the english word “seven”, denoting a 7-ply blade.
Accordingly „V” stands for the roman number 5, denoting a 5-ply blade, whereas the “K” marks blade with a feeling close to the popular “Korbel” blades.
More power – especially in allround play
A blade made from all-wood veneers is a precious option for a lot of players, reducing the blade concept to its very core, where “reduce to the basics” was a main concept in the developments stages of the series.
Models “SR” and “VR” were a deliberates step forward, the “SK” and “VK” blades represent the “classics”, conserving the most pure and basic characteristics of a blade.
The SK being a seven-ply blade, yet with a softer feel and lower vibration property compared to the SR, is easy to play and specially aimed at allround play.
HADRAW VK instead reviving the characteristics of Korbel Speed blade, yet softer than HADRAW VR, and with a lower reaction property, which gives the VK a unique offset in the blade line-up.
As the world of table tennis switches to the plastic ball, demand for blades with a higher reaction property has risen. HADRAW SR and VR specifically aim at players looking for more power in an all-wood blade. Here are the main models in an overview:
HADRAW — with great variation
A lineup of many blades, including japanes penhol versions combined with a fresh and natural design, HADRAW series specifically aims at players favouring 5 and 7 ply blades.
Yusuke IWASE from Butterfly R&D-Team explains the properties HADRAW aims for:
„We do not simply put blades into the hands of players to make them play better. This is only our duty. But we want players – professional and amateurs alike – to feel their game improving in crucial moments of the game. Only then we have created a product that fits the Butterfly philosophy.”
Exact measurements produce exact values for blades
2015, Butterfly introduced the “reaction” and “vibration” property as means to quantify the characteristics of a blade.
What may seem like a minor change is actually a major switch in philosophy.
Until now, blades have been charactized by a “speed” value into 5 categories (from All- to OFF+) and the feeling had to fit into 3 categories (soft, medium, hard).
For example, the 5-ply “KORBEL” blade was characterized as “medium fast” with a “soft” feeling. These values were given as a result of testing and feedback from professional players.
Mitsuru HAYASE, expert in fundamental research started to improve on this system 3 years ago:
„Advancements in digital measuring technology allows us to use more precise figures to describe blades. In the course of the last three years we were able to analyze and quantify this data.
As a result we wanted to update the “subjective” value of “feeling” given to us as feedback of professional players and use a value which can be proven and reproduced methodically. This will help customers to inform themselves on the characteristics of a Butterfly blade and we have adapted these values to all blades.”
While the “reaction property” measures the speed of the ball after bouncing off the racket “straight on”, the “vibration property” measures the number (or frequency) of swings the blade produces in the hands of the player. The higher the speed of the ball bouncing off the blade, the higher the reaction property. The higher the number (or frequency) of swings produced by the blade, the higher the vibration property. A higher frequency equals less feedback from the blade, making it more difficult to control.
On the other hand, there are players who will value a high vibration property and are not compromised in their control of such blades. Both values aim at informing a player of the property they can expect from each Butterfly blade – and supporting their decision for one product. This will help players more compared to the subjective “speed” and “feeling” values, which thusly have been replaced.
This innovation means more than only new numbers, adds HAYASE:
„The improved and more precise measurements also increase the effectiveness of our work in creating and developing new blades as well as analyze the success of popular blades from the past.”
(Adaption of Japanese original by Frank Völler, english adaption by Sebastian Hallen)