Summertime inevitably drums up imagery of sandy beaches and crashing waves with some fun in the sun. As many are heading out on vacation in these final days of summer, we wanted to hone in on the ocean vibes by talking to you about the various applications of 3D printing in water sports. How do 3D technologies improve the performance of surfers, kayakers, or even paddleboarders? Why is 3D printing increasingly used in this sector? In addition to the customization of surfboards, or even jet skis, 3D printing reduces the environmental impact of these sports by using recyclable materials. So take a moment to enjoy August and discover how 3D printing is enhancing the world of water sports!
3D Printing & Water Sports: A Focus on Surfing
French startup, WYVE is certainly one of the most famous 3D printed surfboard manufacturers on the market. After realizing that a board is 95% petrochemical and emits more than 13 pounds of toxic waste, the co-founders of the company decided to design a more environmentally friendly board. They opted for 3D printing and local manufacturing. In their process, the surfer chooses the shape and the design of the board and WYVE can then 3D print the heart of the board from PLA, with the objective being to pass on recycled PET. The result is a tailor-made, transparent, and greener board.
YUYO is also a French startup based in the South of France whose aim is to resolve the famous surfer’s paradox by offering boards that pollute less for our environment and our oceans. Using a large-format 3D printer, YUYO manufactures boards up to 2m40 high and 65cm wide, in around 30 to 40 hours. The startup also relies on PLA. After printing, the board is laminated with natural fiber and bio-based resin.
Another offering from France, this time from the Breton coast on the West of France, Paradoxal Surfboards was created in 2019 when Jérémy Lucas saw a solution for the overabundance of green algae that can be found on the Breton coast. He decided to work to develop a 3D-printed board made out of beached green algae, solving the issues of what to do with the algae waste as well as moving towards an eco-friendlier model for surfboards. Though the initial prototype was made using PLA, the startup is currently developing a thermoformable material based on green algae powder combined with recycled Dyneema which can be used in future models.
Dolphin Board of Awesome
When talking about surfing, it is impossible not to mention the United States, especially since the sport is believed to have originated in Hawaii way back in the 4th century. To that end, we would be remiss to not include an American-made 3D printed surfboard on the list, enter the Dolphin Board of Awesome. Created in 2017, the Dolphin Board of Awesome boasts the distinction of being considered the first 3D printed surfboard that is both recyclable and compostable. Made out of eco-friendly resins, recycled plastic bottles as well as algae ink, the board is printed in 14 pieces and at the time it was created was considered to be both cheaper and more durable than most conventional surfboards.
RedBull Surfboard Designed for Mike Fanning
Of course, though there are boards for sale, certain 3D printed surfboards have been made for a specific person. Take Mike Fanning, a professional surfer from Australia who received a 3D printed board that was developed as a project by Red Bull High Performance and Proto3000 in 2017. Said by the companies to be the first fully 3D printed surfboard, the board was made by printing 10 separate pieces over the course of 100 hours before piecing and gluing them together and sealing the board with fiberglass. Though the board was actually twice as heavy as a regular board, nowadays 3D printed boards are able to be much lighter, and still the use of 3D printing allowed the companies to optimize the design.
Endless Sinter by Karten Design
The “Endless Sinter” surfboard is visually striking compared to other boards and the question arises whether this surfboard is seaworthy at all—and that’s not without reason: Endless Sinter is a work of art by the California agency Karten Design. The surfboard was made in 2014 for an exhibition at the A + D Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. Karten Design produced the surfboard in collaboration with SciCon Technologies using the SLS process. The pattern results from overlapping concentric circles, which symbolize the meeting of the northern and southern Pacific. Endless Sinter was part of the museum’s Sun-‘n’-Surf exhibition that the surfing culture of the 1960s.
3D Printed Surfboard Fins
At the University of Wollongong in Australia, a multidisciplinary team is working to improve the surfing experience for athletes. With 3D-printed fins, the researchers have succeeded in creating an alternative to the otherwise costly manufacturing process using injection molding. With 3D printing, it’s possible to adapt the fins to the individual needs of the surfer as well as to the waves in an iterative process. The fact that the UoW research team strives to perfect the Finns is shown, among other things, by the special GPS tracking devices used during testing, which collect data on the number of waves, maneuvers, and top speed, among other things. The team then combines this data with other parameters as well as the feedback from the surfers in order to additively produce the best possible fins.
Kayaks, Paddleboards, and Jet Skis
3D Printed Kayak
Melker, a Swedish company, uses 3D printing to manufacture kayaks from recyclable materials and wants to use the kayaks to create awareness for a functioning circular economy. The kayaks are made as a single unit with a large format 3D printer. As a result, a kayak can be additively manufactured in just a few hours. Melker uses a combination of sawdust and corn starch as printing material. The advantage: if the print is faulty, the material can be easily reused. “I wanted to find a way how new materials and production methods can be used to develop stylish and tailor-made outdoor products in a more sustainable and climate-friendly way,” says company founder Pelle Stafshede. Through the exclusive use of recycled materials, the environmental impact of production is almost zero.
SUP—3D Printed Paddleboard
SUP — or Stand Up Paddleboarding is a widely popular aquatic activity beloved by over 3 million watersport enthusiasts. Seattle-based Current Drives was able to produce their zero-emission, all-inclusive electric stand-up paddleboard, known as the ESUP™, by using Stratasys Direct Manufacturing services. The watersport company decided to use Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), Stereolithography, PolyJet, CNC Machining, and glass-filled nylon Laser Sintering (LS) to prototype their propeller. “The engineers at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing recommended materials and processes that would work well with our functional testing requirements,” explains Mike Radenbaugh, president of Current Drives.
3D Printed Water Scooter
Offering an adventure both above and below water, AMAZEA scooters by the German company JAMADE were designed using a BigRep large-format 3D printer. Pro HT, a material developed by BigRep, was used to make the scooters due to the material’s temperature resistance and low shrinkage features. With 75% of the scooter made using additive manufacturing, AMAZEA is perfectly waterproof — manufacturing the scooter in one shot gave the company freedom from the restrictive nature of assembly that also comes with the risk of leakage.
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