3D Printed Fins for Surfboards
Surfing is an iconic sport that is extremely popular in coastal regions, including the South Coast of NSW in Australia. The Illawarra is a hotbed of surfers and surfboard makers.
Current surfboard fin manufacturers produce high end products using an expensive injection moulding process to create hydro-foil shaped fins. This process, however, does not allow for easy customisation or rapid prototyping. Creating custom fins is a time consuming and costly process that is difficult to commercialise.
This project addresses the Global Challenge of Manufacturing Innovation by developing surfboard fins using a performance feedback loop. This loop involves the unique combination of computational fluid dynamics, computer aided design, 3D printing, stiffness/flex testing, ocean testing (surfing the waves), embedded sensors / wearables, the Internet-of-Things, machine learning and surfers’ perceptive experiences.
We have already established that additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a viable alternative for manufacturing surfboard fins. For example, it allows for the rapid prototyping and testing of new fin shapes, including optimising fin shapes on a daily cycle.
The expected outcomes of this project include (but are not limited to) creating a product cycle that allows for rapid testing (including performance analysis) of surfboard fins, enabling the design of fin shapes with improved performance relative to those commercially available.
How 3D printing could revolutionise the sport of surfing
As UOW researchers bring additive manufacturing to surfboard design, surfers could create their own custom fins. Researchers have designed a performance feedback loop to test fins in real life conditions in an 'ocean laboratory', find out more in the following video.
3D printed fins tested on surf break in Indonesia
Ever dreamed of surfing some of the world best surf breaks all in the name of research? That’s exactly what the team did on a recent trip to Macaronis in the Mentawai Islands located off Sumatra in Indonesia.
The task for the team of six surfers and three researchers was to surf test new shapes of 3D printed surfboard fins.
3D printed fins take surfing to the next level
Professor Marc in het Panhuis on how 3D printing surfboard fins can help researchers rethink current surf fin designs and manufacturing techniques in order to create new shapes, sizes and materials that are more efficient and tailored to the individual surfer’s needs and the waves they ride. Video courtesy of Paul Jones, UOW
Materials researchers hit the surf with 3D printed fins
Within a matter of hours, the research team can dream up and build an entirely new fin design using materials that match the properties of mass produced fins, the team can make functional parts on demand and test them almost immediately on the NSW South Coast.
Chasing the perfect surfboard through data collection
Surfers spend a lifetime chasing the perfect wave. But what about the perfect surfboard with the perfect, customised fins? Hear how 3D printing is revolutionising the sport through the collection of data. This podcast was created as part of the SMART Podcast Series.
This project brings together experts in materials science, human geography, engineering, biomechanics, 3D printing, computer aided design, computational fluid dynamics, Internet-of-Things, data mining and surfing.
Professor Marc in het Panhuis is the leader of the project and is in the School of Chemistry and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials, and a Professor of Materials Science
Professor Julie Steele is the deputy-leader of the project and the Director of the Biomechanics Research Laboratory in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health
James Forsyth is a PhD student under the supervision of Prof Julie Steele in the Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health.
Paul Jones is a photo-journalist and is in the UOW Media Unit.
Dr Andrew Warren is a lecturer in Human Geography in the faculty of Social Sciences
A/Prof Buyung Kosasih is the School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic Engineering in the faculty of Engineering Information Sciences.
Dr Alhoush El-Shahomi is in the School of Mechanical, Materials and Mechatronic Engineering in the faculty of Engineering Information Sciences and was part of the project during 2017.
Dr Stephen Beirne is a Research Fellow at UOW's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI)
Grant Barnsley is a Fabrication Technician at UOW’s Australian National Fabrication Facility node. He is responsible for CAD and 3D printing of the fins and associated materials.
Professor Pascal Perez is the Director of UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility.
Dr Mehrdad Amirghasemi is an intelligent systems design specialist and is in UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility.
Dr Benoit Passot is an Internet of Things Coordinator in UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility.
Dr Johan Barthelemy is a data specialist and is in UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility.
Fletcher Thompson is the lead Additive Fabrication Officer at UOW's Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI). Fletcher was part of the project during 2015.
Dr Reece Gately completed his PhD under the supervision of Prof Marc in het Panhuis as part of this project. Reece worked on 3D printing and was part of the project during 2015-2016.
Dr Matthew Berryman is a data specialist at UOW’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. and was part of the project during 2017.
Hugo Henris is a student at the University of Namur (Belgium) and is part of the project during 2018 working on data analysis.
Matt Shirlaw is a software developer and was part of the project during 2015-2016.
Geoff Latimer is the coordinator of the Illawarra Sports High School Talented Surfing Program and was instrumental in the conception of the project. He was one of the main testers for the first 3D printed prototypes.
Surfboard partner: DP Surfboards (Thirroul, NSW, Australia) DP Surfboards began as a backyard operation in the 1990's and has grown to become one of Wollongong and the South Coast's elite surfboard brands.
Surfing Team Members: