Thursday, June 23, 2016

Open Letter to USAPA Board re paddle testing

Open Letter to USAPA Board re paddle testing (USAPA Community Forum)

Directors of USAPA                        

June 23, 2016
Open letter to Board of Directors of USAPA

Reference:  USAPA June 2016 response Pro-Lite Sports Article on the work done by Dennis Dacey to qualify paddles to the USAPA technical specifications.

My name is John Anderson, and I would like to provide some feedback on the outstanding work Dennis Dacey has been doing and add some additional technical details related to the testing of the paddles.

Last fall (2015) I was asked by Dennis Dacey if I could provide some input / review his test methods and procedures used to qualify the paddles – specifically the surface roughness measurement techniques and inspection methods.   Dennis was seeking feedback and technical confirmation that he was able to define a specification, and a repeatable test method to define/measure the relevant performance properties of a pickleball paddle.

My technical qualifications and experience as an engineer are directly related to the work Dennis is doing on behalf of the USAPA and the pickleball community at large.  I am a Registered Professional Mechanical Engineer and have over 35 years of experience in the Testing, Product Development, Design, Qualification, and Certification of aerospace products.  My experience in testing and certification of metallic and composite structures is regulated by the FAA and requires certification of the test methods, as well as the products.  I am currently the Chief Engineer for a large aerospace company and I am responsible for FAA Certification of large commercial aerospace products that we would all recognize and we all fly on.

Dennis has been doing a lot of work to define repeatable methods to characterize / measure the surface roughness of paddles that are being proposed by numerous manufacturers.  Dennis asked for my technical support as a qualified Non-Advocate to review his work.  Dennis and I have had several discussions / reviews of the test methods and equipment. I have also personally seen the test setup and test procedures, and witnessed some of the actual testing.  I consider the work that Dennis has done to be technically acceptable to differentiate the paddles with respect to surface roughness  --  considered to be a key characteristic of paddle performance.   

Dennis has also been working with the pickleball manufacturers to assure that proper procedures are in place to document and control the qualification of a paddle sample, and to assure direct linkage of this qualification to the products that are actually being produced / sold and used in USAPA sanctioned tournaments.  This is a fundamental concept of configuration management – unique part numbers or names are needed to maintain linkage of a product back to the certification.  Having multiple product configurations with distinctly different properties (surfaces) would violate the basis of certification of the original as-tested product.  This basic concept applies to any product that requires certification to technical requirements, and is critical to the aerospace, automotive, pharmaceutical, and many other industries…..Having two products with the same part number (name) would only be acceptable if BOTH configurations were compliant to requirements.

This letter is not intended to provide an in-depth review of the issues, but to assure the pickleball community that Dennis Dacey is absolutely data-driven and his technical expertise is relevant to the qualification of the paddles.  For anyone to question his integrity is absolutely ridiculous….and begins to question the motives of any allegations.

John Anderson  PE

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