Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Tecnifibre Duramix HD 16

By Greg Raven

Duramix HD is the latest addition to Tecnifibre’s Team line of strings, which also includes X-Code. Duramix HD is constructed using similar technology to Tecnifibre Promix (which we playtested for the April 2003 issue of RacquetTech magazine) and X-Code (which we playtested for the January 2011 issue of Racquet Sports Industry magazine). In the case of Duramix HD, bundles of polyamide (AKA nylon) microfilaments and bundles of polyester microfilaments are combined using unique technology that encases each bundle in Tecnifibre’s high-density polyurethane (PU HD). Multiple bundles are used to construct the string itself, held together with PU HD. Where Promix had 30 percent polyester and 70 percent polyamide microfibers, and X-Code has 100 percent polyester microfibers, Duramix HD has 50 percent polyester and 50 percent polyamide microfibers.

Tecnifibre’s testing shows there is 22 percent more fatigue on arm muscles with polyester monofilament — along with higher energy requirements — compared to a multifilament nylon. Tecnifibre tells us that Duramix HD is the missing link between their famous polyurethane multifilaments and a polyester monofilament. Duramix HD is 30 percent firmer than nylon, with more power, better dynamics, and better tension retention. Plus, it plays better than polyester monofilaments at lower tensions.

Tecnifibre recommends Duramix HD for players seeking some of the playing characteristics of polyester strings without the potential for arm and wrist problems associated with stiffer strings.

Duramix HD is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) gauges in natural only. It is priced from $13 for sets of 40 feet, and $195 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 888-TFTennis (888-838-3664), or visit tecnifibre.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself.

IN THE LAB

We tested the 16-gauge Duramix HD. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.29-1.32 mm prior to stringing, and 1.25-1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 76 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 69 RDC units, representing a 9 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Tecnifibre Duramix HD 16 has a stiffness of 205 and a tension loss of 15.5 pounds. Duramix HD added 16 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 36 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 27.6.

Duramix HD feels soft out of the package and is easy to handle. The RU resin feels almost rubbery, and the string sometimes emits a squeaking noise at the grommets when tensioning the mains. Despite the additional friction, we had no problem weaving the crosses or tying knots. The tip frays like a multifilament, but even without trimming we had no problem with blocked holes.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, none reported problems tying knots, and three reported friction burn.

ON THE COURT

Our playtest team’s scores put Duramix HD as the fifth best Touch/Feel string we’ve tested for publication, and eighth best in the Comfort category. They also rated it 16th best overall in Playability, and 21st best in Power. Rounding out the ratings, Duramix HD scored well above average in Control and Resistance to Movement.

Five playtesters broke the string during the playtest period, one each at five, eight, nine, eleven, and twelve hours.

CONCLUSION

When you see a string score in the top ten for both Touch/Feel and Comfort, you don’t expect it to have any polyester in it. Yet the half-polyester Duramix HD did exactly that. In the Touch/Feel category where it ranks fifth out of 154 playtests, our playtest team scored just behind Tecnifibre’s legendary NRG2 SPL. In the Comfort category where it ranks eighth overall, three of the other strings ahead of it are also from Tecnifibre (X-One Biphase, TGV, and Xr3). With these and its other high scores, Duramix HD’s overall score is well above average. With the introduction of Duramix HD, Tecnifibre does seem to have found the “missing link” between nylon and polyester strings.

Playtester comments

“This is a very comfortable string with above average feel and power. Tension maintenance and resistance to movement are outstanding. This is one of the best multifilaments I’ve used in a long time.” 5.0 male server-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One Team strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Babolat VS Touch 18/16)

“This is comfortable string with great dwell time.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core Pro 17)

“This string shines in every category. Extremely quiet.” 5.0 male server-and-volley player using Handler Arrow strung at 39 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Tour 17)

“Plenty of pop, playability, and control.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)

“If this string is competitively priced, I will recommend it to the majority of my customers.” 4.0 male touch player using Wilson n5 strung at 52 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“This is a comfortable string which excels in power and tension maintenance. Your tendons will thank you for using it.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 57/55 pounds CP (Pro Supex Big Ace 17)

“Outstanding playability and touch.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 63 pounds LO (Luxilon Adrenaline 17)

“Amazing comfort! Touch and finesse shots are very easy to execute, especially at net. This is the best string I have ever tested.” 5.0 male server-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string has exceptional, comfort, resiliency, and pocketing.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This is a very arm-friendly string with excellent touch.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“Handles stiff, but plays soft. This is a durable string which is above average in most categories.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Graphite Acclaim strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat VS Team 16)

“Excellent durability, control, and comfort. Tension maintenance is the only slight negative.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16x18) strung at 54 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Black Code 17)

“Good comfort, touch, and playability. Bite is on the dull side. Topspin players may want to increase the tension.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT strung at 61 pounds CP (Prince Poly Spin 3D/Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16L/16)

“While power is on the low side, the mix of comfort, control, and feel is outstanding.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This is a comfortable string with excellent durability. While it does not have quite the playability of natural gut, the touch is surprisingly good.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl V1 Classic MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Natural Gut 16)

“This is recommended to players in search of comfort and playability.” 5.0 male server-and-volley player using Prince O3 Hybrid Comp MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT 16)

“This string strikes a nice compromise between durability and playability.” 4.0 male all court player using Head i.Prestige Mid strung at 57 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 18)

“The pocketing lends itself to pinpoint control. Impressive comfort and feel. Durability is slightly below average.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex 7g strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“Excellent combination of comfort and durability. Definitely a string worth carrying.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Synthetic Gut Extreme 16)

“Excellent feel and spin. This is a good alternative to solid core nylon.” 5.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat VS Team 17)

“The combination of spin, power, and control is incredible. It broke after 8 hours - 8 wonderful hours.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200g (Muscle Weave) strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“This is a great beginner string because it has high levels of comfort and control. Power is low, which helps keep the ball from flying all over the place.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 56/59 pounds CP (Genesis Typhoon 17)

“My arm enjoys this multifilament. String movement is very minimal. String savers and higher tensions are advised for big hitters with durability and control issues.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Staff strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“Average performance, with some notching and buzzing after 3 sets of heavy topspin.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Recommended to players who favor touch, power, and comfort over durability.” 6.0 male all court player using Vantage VT002 White strung at 60 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)

“This string got the job done, but it’s definitely not employee of the month.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 55 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 18)

“This string has excellent feel, but it lacks power.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson n5 strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string’s combination of durability and comfort make it a nice alternative to polyester. It seems to lose tension fairly quickly though.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 White strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT 16)

“While control and comfort are adequate, bite and tension maintenance are below average.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Silver strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Just when I was ready to sign on the dotted line, this string started to go dead. Perhaps some pre-stretching would extend the remarkable playabiltiy past ten hours. This is worth a second look.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson n1 strung at 62 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X One Biphase 17)

“This is a so-so string with decent durability and very little movement.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 10 Mid strung at 55 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon SP 17)

“This string is soft, but it lacks bite.” 4.0 male all court player using Pacific Raptor strung at 58 pounds LO (Pacific X Force/Gosen OG Sheep Micro 18/17)

“This is a soft string that doesn’t quite stand out. Power is adequate, but tension maintenance leaves something to be desired.” 3.5 male server-and-volley player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 Stretch strung at 54 pounds LO (Babolat VS Team/Gamma TNT2 17/17)

“Comfort and playability are on the low end. Touch and spin are satisfactory. This is the kind of string that makes me think I’ve been spoiled by natural gut.” 5.5 male all court player using Babolat Aero Storm Tour strung at 55/53 pounds CP (Natural Gut/Polyester 16/18)

“Initially this string has good pop and comfort. Over time, however, it loses resiliency. After eighteen hours, it goes dead.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 56 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“Plenty of power but insufficient bite. Too many bails sail long.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex strung at 62 pounds LO (Mantis Comfort Synthetic 16)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 2
somewhat easier 11
about as easy 21
not quite as easy 2
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 2
somewhat better 9
about as playable 9
not quite as playable 15
not nearly as playable 1
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 9
about as durable 19
not quite as durable 7
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability (16th overall) 3.8
Durability 3.4
Power (21st overall) 3.6
Control 3.6
Comfort (8th overall) 3.8
Touch/Feel (5th overall) 3.8
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension 3.2
Resistance to Movement 3.4

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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