3D Printed Windsurfing!?
It seems that you can’t move for 3D printing companies cropping up all over the place. Pick a market and you can guarantee that someone has worked out (or is at least planning) how 3D printing can be adapted for that particular application.
The latest area to feature 3D print technology is watersports – more specifically windsurfing. A trio of windy fanatics have set up a company specialising in 3D printing windsurf boards. If they can make a success of it then surfboards are next on the agenda.
Shanon Marks, Erik Johnson and Mark Laughlin started Made LLC with the idea of taking on the mainstream windsurfing brands that, in their opinion, produce overcomplicated, over lapping (performance characteristics) and over priced products.
Shanon Marks was interviewed by 3D Printing Australia, stating that the windsurfing industry is currently bogged down with issues causing confusion during a customers’ purchasing process.
Made LLC’s way, although on the surface is extremely technical, will in the end give a simplified experience to the rider.
To date, the company has produced a number of prototype boards to prove the concept works. During the interview, Chris Peters – a Melbourne based designer, kitesurfer and 3D print fanatic – was given one of these early designs to try out for himself.
The board was designed around Chris’ personal dynamics, as all of the company’s products are.
Riders use a performance tracking application (currently being developed as a mobile app) linked to near– field communication chips. This technology will study riders’ on water behaviour including bodyweight, height, course, speed, GPS, altitude (during jumps), time in motion, stationary time, average conditions, wave height and numbers of nearby sailors –amongst other headers.
With the ability to tweak and refine board designs based on this information, each product can be tailored to an individual’s wants and needs giving a uniquely personal experience.
At present it is only the board’s core which is 3D printed. A Fortus 900 3D Printer is used to manufacture the internal lattice stringers – more akin to techniques used in boat building than board design.
These ‘struts’ are then layered with bamboo and fibreglass. The plan, however, is for the company to move towards a 100% additive process (fully printed). This will cut down on waste and damage caused to the environment.
Made LLC are in the process of crowd funding their business and will be featuring it on Kickstarter soon.
Could this be the future of windsurfing design and production? Only time will tell.