Australian researchers are using the flexibility of 3D printing to take personalised surfboard designs to the limit.
A multi-disciplinary team of students and academics from the University of Wollongong are using 3D printing to create custom surfboard designs that allow surfers to improve their performance in the water.
The team includes computational fluid dynamics experts, who will optimise the flow of the water around the fin; biomechanics specialists, who will study the effect of translational forces from the surfer and waves; human geographers, who will look at surfers’ perception of their performance; 3D printing experts from the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF); and volunteer surfers from the Wollongong region.
“We want to come up with new, more efficient fins that can be bespoke-designed for a particular surfer and a particular wave,” said project leader Professor Marc in het Panhuis.
“Most current techniques involve moulds that are expensive to make and hence, are harder to customise based on individual surfer’s needs. In contrast, 3D printing is a process that allows for rapid prototyping and rapid optimisation of surfboard designs for individual surfers.”
In order to compile data on fin and surfing performance, they are using a small GPS tracking device fitted to the nose of the boards of an intermediate surfer and a talented club rider. The data is compared to that of a pro rider on the world tour circuit who has been surfing with a similar tracking device.
The device tracks everything from wave count and top speed to the biggest turn and highest air.
The team has already tracked more than 1400 waves and 1100 turns and have produced several fins at the ANFF.