In our four-part blog post series, “Behind the Grips,” we pull back the curtain and explore each section of the innovative, triple-layered KontrolFreek Grips. Each post will not only cover the unique benefits and properties of that layer, but also the needs and issues that layer is addressing.
For our initial foray, we will dissect the top layer of the KontrolFreek Grips: the honeycomb-embossed proprietary polymer. Our top layer generates three crucial advantages over regular OEM gaming controllers: enhanced grip, moisture-wicking surface, and antimicrobial properties.
Naturally, the first benefit is the enhanced grip. Standard OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) controller housings must be made of extremely durable materials that also protect the internal circuitry, which leads to the hard plastic standard you see on every controller. Unfortunately, this sacrifices the comfort and texture that you might otherwise desire for your controller.
Luckily, we have decided to tackle this problem head-on. The honeycomb pattern, which is embossed into the surface of the top polymer layer, is one of nature’s greatest structurally efficient designs.
It provides the greatest perimeter-to-area ratio for any shape that tessellates (indefinitely interconnecting), which is why it improves on a triangular or rectangular pattern. The greater the perimeter/area ratio that exists, the more “grooves,” or lines, it creates in a standard area of space. More grooves increase the total surface area because of the addition of the surface area from the vertical sides of the groove channels. Increased surface area directly correlates to the amount of friction the material creates with your palm, providing more grip and keeping your hand stationary.
The honeycomb design also provides the most efficient tessellating pattern for handling compression and shear load (force vector parallel to the surface). When squeezing a controller tight during gameplay, your palm may wiggle around and apply pressure in any and every direction across the surface of the handle of the controller, as you reach for various buttons, triggers, thumbsticks, etc., or just get really excited and into your gaming. The honeycomb pattern will actually help prevent your palms from compressing, or “smushing,” the material flat and decreasing the friction of the material.
Finally, the “grooves” in the honeycomb pattern add an additional element of grip. So while the top layer is shear stress (force being applied parallel to the surface) resistant as outlined above, the soft, dense foam layer underneath will yield to force being applied perpendicular to the surface. This causes the Grips to depress and conform to your hand as you apply pressure to the controller (more details on the foam layer to follow in subsequent blog posts).
As your fingers compress the foam (make an indention in it), this causes the grooves in the honeycomb pattern to pinch together at the surface level, or top of the “U”-shaped grooves, not unlike Reebok’s RealFlex or Nike’s Flex Run running shoes if you were to bend the outsole back on itself. This pinching action microscopically clamps onto the surface of your palm skin, providing even more grip. The end results is that the tighter you squeeze (or the more aggressively you play), the more grip it generates and the tighter the hexagonal pattern pinches down on the surface of your skin.
Stay tuned for the rest of the Behind the Grips series:
The Honeycomb Top Layer – PART TWO: Liquid Management
The Microcellular Foam Middle Layer
The Two-Sided Specialty Adhesive Layer (coming soon)