Future Technology

Future Technology Its a new era in surfboard construction. We just visited the new Ron Jon custom surfboard production facility located directly behind their Cocoa Beach shop. Its a totally new method of producing boards in a more efficient and more environmentally safe way. It works like this. When you order your board you order from a computer terminal one of a vast variety of shapes available from many of todays top shaper/designers. All the shapes are pre-scaned into the computer and held in memory on the hard disk or CD. Once you have made your selection a technician clamps a correct size closed cell polystyrene “e-cell” blank (which is produced on premises using a laser preshape machine) and your board is shaped by computer as you watch from behind a viewing window. The shape is computer perfect and takes just 15 minutes to finish. After the shape is completed, fin boxes are installed (the holes are actually cut and the fin angles set during the shaping process to the designer’s specs) using a hot epoxy glue which sets almost immediately. The blank is then sprayed with a light coating of spray contact cement and an epoxy “prepreg” cloth is set into place. Prepreg cloth is cloth with a very high viscosity resin already saturated into the fibers. This resin is such high viscosity that it is essentially dry. The whole thing is then covered with a shrink wrap bag and placed into an oven. The ovens heat “melts” the resin in the prepreg, which saturates the fibers, sets the resin while the shrink wrap pulls the whole package together. After 30 minutes in the oven the now nearly finished board is pulled out and allowed to cool. Next the shrink wrap is cut off, fin boxes are trimmed and detailed, fins installed and your new board is complete and ready to ride. Start to finish production time…90 minutes. Environmentally all the polystyrene foam scrap is recyclable, there is no excess resin used when using prepregs and the prepreg epoxy is solvent free so there are no emissions from the glassing process. Even the removable fins are recyclable. The whole board is produced almost waste and emission free. Quite a difference from todays standard board. Now before you go running off to Ron Jon to order your new high tech magic shooter there is something you should know. The date for the opening of this board building facility is sometime in the future. You see, I made this up. But here’s something to think about. All the materials and techniques that I have written about above are available today. The foam I talked about is presently being produced right here in the US. The laser preshape machines are in existence right now. Todays shaping machines are not quite as advanced as written above but probably will be within a few years. Spray adhesives, prepreg cloth, shrink wrap and hot epoxy glues are all widely available. So why doesn’t this process really exist? Because it will take thousands of dollars to develop these ideas beyond the idea stage. But this process, or one similar to it, will exist someday so get your money ready.

Ya so you can pay $2000 for a pop out. Just like Kelly Slaters.

Greg, Prior to working at Daum Tooling I ran a boatyard in Newport Beach CA. We worked with many exotic race boats and their manufacturers. I went on to initiate a QC program in a major So.CA yacht manufacturer. I also work with Deft Manufacturing and Hart Labs on developing a high solids low VOC line of epoxies and paints. I’m pretty familiar with prepregs and shrink wraps. They work great! Down side is they are incredibly expensive. Now I’m working with CAD/CAM. All of these technologies are wonderful. But, in todays market they are incredibly expensive. I’ve seen several projects fail due to insufficient funding. It will take a very far sighted entity to fund a project with the type of ROI your discussing. But, if the market can with stand the volume it would take to justify such a project, it would ultimately be a good thing for everyone.

we’ve been making aircraft tooling and parts like that for the 13 yrs I’ve been in it and others were long before me. I think that whole process was really refined and perfected on the B-2 poject. big $$$$. when I was working in Oz we thought about bagging a board with carbon prepreg (it was free) but were afraid of melting the foam in the autoclave.

Rohacell foam can be used in an autoclave. It’s acrylic foam and it is white. It’s also expensive as hell. My website ia www.gregloehrsurfboards.com. Don’t expect mush though. It’s just a small site

There are two types of prepregs. Hotmelt, new technology and no voc’s. The traditional way however is to thin the epoxy in acetone and run it through a tower with heat to flash off the acetone, causing VOC’s.

Tom, Which bit is expensive the shrink wrap or the prepreg?. I was wondering about shrinkwrap as an alternative to vacumn bagging on handlay up

Stephen, The prepreg was typically the most expensive. But, with shrink wrap inorder to get enough tension you need fairly thick shrink wrap, higher temperatures and a really good mold release. Vaccume bagging and prepreg will allow you to set it off at lower temps. But, then you need to consider some kind of binder to get beyond the lack of resin to foam saturation.

I’m sorry to shoot down my own article but I tried shrink wrap with prepreg on a project I did with Fl. Institute of Tech. Worked OK but shink wrap won’t work in concaves. Again sorry to get you all excited over nothing. But it is fun to dream a bit.

It will be possible soon…have you guys seen the article on the new blanks from Solomon? Us small guys will always be small, but size doesn’t matter!!! Except to women!!!

Unfortunately Solomons blanks are based on extruded polystyrene. And are hollow. These are each running the potential for problems in the finished product, i.e. delaminations and problems experienced with hollow boards in the past. I will definately be there to sell the resins and the expertise required to laminate these things. I wish them all the luck and welcome their imput but I for one have to see more than hype in a mag to be convinced.