That’s why hockey teams are looking to nanotech to keep those sticks intact.

Even though carbon composite has propelled engineering to new realms of lightweight strength, carbon still comes with a weakness.

N12 Technologies’ NanoStitch technology aims to use one of the smallest and toughest materials in the universe-nanotubes that are 50 times stronger than spider silk-to fix the problem, and hopes to get N12 tech into hockey sticks during this NHL season.

“We do the same thing for carbon fiber composite. A carbon fiber is very strong when you pull, but tends to be weak when you push on it. It tends to splinter and delaminate when it twists. We are, in essence, like rebar to reinforced concrete. We put a material that essentially makes the sheer properties much stronger. We oppose the forces that are trying to shatter it.”

N12 is now beyond the initial testing phases, as tests with stick manufacturers have demonstrated that the nanotubes could improve upon the composite sticks currently on the market.

Carbon nanotubes offer a new element of strength, both in the large impacts, such as a slap shot, and in the much smaller impacts that happen over the routine course of the game to help a stick retain the “Snap” and feel players desire, N12 says.

N12 launched in 2012 as a way to take this lab technology out of MIT and scale it to the industrial level, something the company hopes to do beyond hockey sticks.