Polycarbonate Shrink Wrap

I saw this picture on Matt Biolos’ Instagram the other day and although it is beyond my realm of expertise, it sparked my interest:


“The future? Polycarbonate shrink wrap over hand [s]haped PU blank. See it. Believe it.”

What do you guys think?

just as a fyi…



ABS** Engineering Grade Polymer


ASA** Similar to ABS but with the added benefit of UV stability


High Impact Acrylic** Clear with high impact resistance


HIPS (Styrene)** High gloss, great for Point Of Sale Displays


HDPE** Robust and heavy duty


PE  **Lightweight and good electrical properties

I agree with what ur saying yuicycle… I dont think a cheaper board is a problem as long as the profit remains the same,and if you can make that profit quicker and easier then thats a good thing too. Cheaper boards might result in greater sales numbers. If people are happy to buy plastic boards, then why not get them locally, the local shapers will have to get over their aversion to plastic but if theres $$ to be made, why not?

The world has moved on from glassed boards. Its a shame but thats the way it is and always will be. But there will always be a market for handmade boards, just an increasingly smaller market. 

Heres a really simple explanation vid…


 Now tell me thats not the quickest way to glass !

I see this as a benefit for local small shaper being able to be more competitive while able to lower the retail cost but still make the same profit.  like cnc shaping machine, not every shaper need one in there shaping bay.  All a shaper have to do is bring there shaped blank(cnc cut or hand shape) to the guy who owns a vacuum forming machine and have it made within minutes.  Plus with current instant gratification type of consumers, being able to create a ridable custom shape within hour(s) while keep the cost low is a benefit.  Why would a consumer buy a oversea popout while a custom board can be make to their specification while keeping the price competitive.  That is why BIC surfboard can still manufacture their board in France while other big companies have move to oversea. 

Not directed at you Surfoils, just a general rant.  Keep up the good work, looks interesting and it’s an exciting thread.


I like glassing, I find it therapeutic…

This method sounds interesting/exciting but I guess you are totally relying on the core for strenght and twang, might suit composite boards better?

But it comes back to the problem of making a more automated, easier and cheaper process which only further de-values the surfboard as a consumer item as any ‘tard’ with a computer and money for start up can have a go.  The experienced surfboard ‘craftsman’ or ‘tradesman’ just become a further distant memory.

How much does a vacuum forming machine cost? I’d imagine that it might skew your cost estimates surfoils?

Here’s another thought, why would you want to work 12 hour+ days and not go surfing because you’re on the plastic machine trying to pump out $75 boards to fill the shelves at Target so the ‘lads’ can get a cheap deal and you can make ends meat whilst putting other people out of a job?  Or develop the idea and send it to China?

Seems like the similar stupid mentality of going to a third world country with a perfect uncrowded wave, it’s basicly free to stay anyway but then setting up a surf camp to fund you’re own selfish lifestyle whilst crowding/ruining it for the exact purpose of going there in the first place???

$75 and 6 mins!! Just shows its possible to make a really economical board with vacforming.

Dave, Do you know what happened to their board making division ??

With that sort of production there mustve been a reason why they stopped?? 

Eps blank $50

Cutting $30

Poly carb skins $35

Fin plugs/leash plug $40

All Major materials $155

Labour per board -1 hr ? Maybe $50/hr


Corefusions cost back in the daY were approx $75 per board and one made every 6 minutes…


you will never compete on prices because if those boards became popular they will make the same boards at half the price. 

the shrink wrap is a great idea. i tried to see where i could find a 12f long oven but i think you have to build it. those boards would be great for beginners or surf school too.

Once its vacced on,you get about 10 secs max to do some minimal hand forming with the plastic ( with gloves on) and then its not coming off ever.

Those Core Fusion Surfboards seem to have dissappeared, but maybe the idea was too far ahead of its time, same with Pro Curcuit Boards by McTavish.

 If popouts/Surftech et al. have given anything to the original industry, it may be an acceptance by the market of alternate materials.

This could be an opportunity to more closely compete on price.

How much time do you have before the polycarbonate harden up?

Louis, I have considered the problem of bonding the plastic skin to the core but I think that once the hot plastic is vacuum  formed…and then it cools… and shrinks… I think it will grab onto the blank in a highly intimate manner that wont require any adhesive.

Considering that the thin plastic will be sucked onto the blank and then when it cools it will shrink even further, Im thinking that even with a shrinkage of 2% as it cools, its not going to need any glue. The blank might even be in peril of being crushed as the shell contracts !

 I reckon its one of those things that could be pondered for ages but a few experiments will show whats needed.

 For the guys new to vacforming, its simple.

Theres 2 processes involved… 

Heating then Vaccing

 Or softening the plastic and then sucking in onto a mold. 

 Or Thermo and then Forming… hence thermo-forming.

 Heres a small setup but totally capable of being replicated to do surfboards.

The plastic sheet is held flat in a rigid frame. The plastic sheet is usually about .5 mm thick, or about .02 of an inch, so its very light and thin.

 Its held over a heating element / table on the right until the plastic softens.

The frame and the plastic is then flipped over onto a vacuum table on the left, where the mold is waiting. For a surfboard the ‘flipping’ would be done along the longitudinal sides.

 The plastic sheet covers the mold and is sucked down over the mold by the vacuum pressure from below.

 Due to the heat and the vacuum, the plastic skin forms to the shape of the mold and when it cools it retains the shape of the mold.

 I did a bit of this thermo forming about 4 years ago but not of the scale of a complete surfboard.

 Ive got the oven setup to do the test samples but I need to build a vac table or similar.

Remember this from swaylocks in 2006 

"Core Fusion boards are the only completely automated manufacture boards available. (BIC in France has a similar process, but market strictly themselves.)  This means the production costs are the lowest in the world, including China and Thailand.  Therefore, we pass on our savings as low, low prices.  Core Fusion boards are Australian made, an attractive marketing "address".  Any graphic imaginable is do-able with our digital printing process.  Our plant and process is overseen by surfboard manufacturers with over 40 year’s experience.  Our plastics technology is the most cutting edge available worldwide, and stems from the packaging industry.  Our boards are tougher in the "workplace" than regular fiberglass boards, and resist shattering and creasing. Tested to outlast regular boards. All outer shells are UV proof. As well the product is completely recyclable, a pure environmentally friendly product." 

So these guys are doing a flex tuned core with a tough UV proof skin, that can have digital graphics and take any fin system. The whole process is automatic. If it’s a two step process ie the blank is molded then skinned. You could hand shape boards, get em skinned, and ride them. ie you could do prototypes that would perform like the molded boards without having to make molds, when you come up with something that works you could invest in the mold.

After some better research i found out that you can bond the plastic to the core. Polycarbonate can be mechanically bonded by standard methods. It can also be cemented by using a solvent such as methylene chloride or adhesives such as epoxy, urethane and silicone.


also you need to dry the lexan for 1 hr at 200 because it absorb moisture in the air, if you dont do this you will get tiny bubbles when you thermoform it.



I’ll try  XPS too it seems a little more physically resistant.  The vacforming forums complain about uneven heat distribution with electrical elements so I’ll try small versions in the gas oven and BBQ as well.

Is this the beginning of the end for hand lamination?

One of my friend in OZ as been working on this for a while and he said that he get big trouble with bond. the polycarbonate doesnt bind to the foam.  you get a loose core in a shell. maybe with some sort of cement before the vac?

this is a good idea but you really need to have the core fuse to the shell dont you think?

please elaborate  about this problem, its interesting how this could be solve with everyone ideas.


also polycarbonate can be soften at 130d at .5mm so maybe it would wprk with EPS.   search on google for LExan catalog. its has the whole process from vaccum forming to oven to repair. i cannot attach it because its too big.

Oven for this are not so expensive.

Its a total substitute for glassing.

Got some laminate samples delivered today…

 L to R…Plain  / mettalic/  woodgrain /semi gloss



That’s quite interesting. I have a vac bag capable of fitting a smaller board inside of it, probably like a 5’7 max. I’ve never done a composite layup with the bag though. I’ve been thinking about what a board would be like with a high pressure laminate like formica on it, not as a substitue for glass or anything. Definitely heavy, but super smooth and probably decently durable too. The plastic seems like a better idea though, it’s probably much lighter. Are they usng the plastic as a substitute for glass?