Foam reinforced with fiberglass weaving???

I was watching the discover channel on a day i was playing hooky from work, and i came across some show on bridge building and trying to make roadways out of material that weigh less so they can build longer bridges. They are proposing to use foam reinforced with fiberglass cross sections through out the foam. I guess they have some sort of loom that sews fiberglass roving into cross sections, thereby creating a pattern of fiberglass reinforcement within the foam. They then vacuum bagged it, and it was supposed to be just as strong as asphalt, but a hell of a light lighter. Could you imagine the implications if that was put into a shaped surfboard. Granted, there wouldn’t be a lot of flex from the board, but it would be virtually indestructable. I am sure the application would be way to expensive to invest in, but it still would be neet to see an experimental board made that way. Let me know what you guys think.

Not the same thing but I remember shaping rudders for Dennis Choate Sailboats and the foam was laced with glass fibers. I remember that because I thought I was just shaping foam. I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt and when I started to get a really bad itch I looked clsoely at the foam and found it was full of fibers.

I really think board builders would benefit from studying the boat building industry. They have more $$ for R+D and alot of their technology is transferable. I was just noticing the other day that all racing sailboats now have really narrow, thin high aspect appendages (rudders and keels). I’m not sure the reason for that (efficiency?) but was wondering if the reasoning was applicable to surfboards. Also, has anyone developed a paddle-in hydrofoil board (ala Laird’s foil boards)? Some of the most radical sailboats are now experimenting with foils ( France’s “Hydroptere”).

Biggest obstacle is surfers want a custom sized board. Nobody really wish’s they could ride popouts. If they can, fine for them.

Problem with paddle foil is that lots of lift is needed to get up to planing speed, in the 9-13mph range, and once up to speed, need to be tuned for sustaining the speed, not the lift required to get there. That’s the reason for PWC, sail, or kite assistance. A tunable by the surfer foil is a daunting project, when it’s already hard to make the foil thing work well.


Biggest obstacle is surfers want a custom sized board. Nobody really wish’s they could ride popouts.

First of all there is a substansial amount of people riding popouts. Secondly, with the shaping machines being so common I really don’t see the problem with shaping those blanks. However, how to get a good matrix of fibers into a foamcore, adding strength without adding too much weight would be a big issue.



Theory is neat and fun to discuss.

Reality seldom abides by theory.

Fibreglass woven (3D) reinforced foam to my recollection was invented by NASA in th 1960’s for insulating the cryogenic tanks of the Saturn 5 / Apollo moon rocket.

NASA originally wanted to use balsa wood for the job because of its high specific strength and insulating qualities, but … there was not enough of it available … and it would have exhausted the worlds supply of balsa wood.

Whats new is old again.

once the ficle mind of surfers decides on ‘whats good’

the replication of said ‘GOOD’ shape can explore

molded fiber reinforced foam.

a road/

easy , modular construction

custom one off attitude

surfboards,ha ,ha ,and ha,

Take a deeeeeeeeep breath

and like the same board

for more than a month

then the futureisms will become a reality

the 1960’s…heh heh.


I’m with LeeDD

Just to prove my recollection is still okay.

Found this article on


Meanwhile, the search for an effective insulation material continued. At one point, balsa wood was a leading candidate. Balsa had all the primary characteristics for good insulation: lightness, ease of shaping, and insulative capacity. But there was a question of adequate supply of the right kind of balsa. Each S-IV liquid hydrogen tank was 5.5 meters in diameter and 10 meters long. S-IVB tanks were 6.7 meters in diameter and 12.2 meters long. Obviously, a considerable amount of balsa would be required during production, and no one was completely sure that current stocks of balsa would suffice. A special task force analyzed the available data and reluctantly reported that the combined harvests of the balsa forests all over South America fell short. Even as the data were being analyzed, balsa was losing its allure. Lab testing revealed internal wood flaws and other deficiencies that made it less and less desirable as insulation. Still, the balsalike qualities of lightness, insulative characteristics, and ease of shaping were goals of the Douglas engineers in their quest for the perfect material, available in quantity. As Ted Smith put it, “We set out to manufacture synthetic balsa.”36

After conducting tests of a number of potential materials, Douglas technicians finally devised their own insulation. To form workable masses of insulation material, they contrived a three-dimensional matrix of fiberglass threads, woven onto a boxlike form reminiscent of a child’s weaving frame-top to bottom as well as back and forth. After it was strung, the matrix frame was placed in a mold, and polyurethane foam was poured in and cured. The result was a reinforced foam block, 30 centimeters square and 20 centimeters deep, which could be sawed into a pile of flat plaques, then machined to the required convex and concave contours appropriate for the interior of the S-IV liquid hydrogen tank. The recessed waffle pattern construction of the tank’s interior required special attention in shaping each tile to fit. Using a machine tool with custom fixtures and cutters, operators recessed edges and cut steps on [[/url]176] each tile. The tiles then slipped into the appropriate indentation in the waffle pattern and still covered the notched step cut of each adjoining tile for a smooth surface. The waffle pattern included some variations in design, requiring each of the 4300 tiles to be numbered and individually shaped to its unique position inside the tank.37 In cutting the tiles, Douglas discovered a true case of serendipity-the saw cuts left small ends of the fiberglass threads sticking out around the edges, which served admirably to engage the adhesive as each tile was installed.38

Interestingly enough these fibreglass/urethane foam blocks were assembled and fitted at the Vehicle Tower Complex, Huntington Beach, California .