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University of Wollongong Researchers Plan to Ride the Waves with 3D Printed Surfboard Fins

by • May 3, 2016 • No Comments

Over the past few years, 3D printing advancement has assisted cultivate waves of advancement across a wide range of industries, whether it be on land, in outer space, or actually upon the vast oceans of our planet Earth. As the tides go on to rise and fall, 3D printing appears to be trending upwards when it comes to the art of surfing, as surfboard manufacturers and enthusiasts have begun experimenting additional and additional with customized surfboards and fins. Last year, in New Zealand, we covered the story of the Jigsurf, a 48-piece surfboard created entirely of 3D printed components. Prior to that, we watched as man New Zealand surfer Roy Stuart gained notoriety of the surfing community for his one-of-a-kind 3D printed Warp Drive fins.

Now, for those who don’t have much experience riding upon the ocean waves, the fins of the surfboard can not seem to hold that much value, but those who are experienced surfers understand that various fin creations can vary stability, control, and thus the overall performance of the surfboard. In New South Wales, Australia, researchers of the University of Wollongong have not long ago begun 3D printing surfboard fins that are tailored to assist the requires of the individual rider or the local surf forecast.


UOW Professor Marc in het Panhuis and a surfboard with 3D printed fins

Led by Professor Marc in het Panhuis, the Associate Dean of UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health, the research team has may already 3D printed a number of surfboard fins, and are already testing their functionality upon the waves. The surfboards used in the testing have been equipped with GPS tracking devices, that gathers data on the wave counts, top speed, turns, and air. This data is and so compared to that of a pro surfer on the world circuit tour who has been riding with a much like tracking device, that can assist the research team to validate and revamp the create of their 3D printed fins. In order to 3D print these customized fins, the research team used the 3D printing equipment housed inside the Australian National Fabrication Facility.


“We want to come up with new, additional efficient fins that can be bespokely createed for a particular surfer and a particular wave,” said Dr. in het Panhuis. “Most current techniques involve moulds that are expensive to manufacture and hence, are harder to customize based on individual surfer’s requires. In contrast, 3D printing is a system that allows for for rapid prototyping and rapid optimization of creations for individual surfers.”

UOWSo far, the University of Wollongong researchers have tracked additional than 1,400 waves and 1,100 turns, that has enabled them to pinpoint that parts of the fin require improvement. Professor in het Panhuis and his team are may already in talks with a handful of Australian surfboard manufacturers, and are looking to initially commence their 3D printed fins to the coastal city of Wollongong, and hopefully thereafter across the oceans of the world. Australia is may already renowned for both their surfboard manufacturers and rideable waves, but with this 3D printing technique, they hope to improve the engagement and performance of the local surfing community.


The University of Wollongong has been a bastion for 3D printing advancement research in Australia, in fact, back in 2014, Dr. in het Panhuis created ‘Jello’ waves with his research on developing edible hydrogels. At the end of last year, the institution provided a free, four-week online course in 3D bioprinting, that was open to everyone regardless of their experience level. With their 3D printed fins, Dr. in het Panhuis and his research team hope to improve the art of surfing for all levels of experience as well. By tailoring every fin for the requires of every individual surfer or surfboard, the University of Wollongong is looking to assist these wave-riders conquer the ocean with their own fashion and preference. Discuss additional in the 3D Printed Surfboard Fins forum over at 3DPB.com.

[ Source/Images: University of Wollongong ]