Printing: some say it is at the end of its very long road. With digital technologies, the internet, smartphones and tablets, many feel print is dead and obsolete. My printed June issue of Surfer magazine isn’t going to refresh and share with me the latest news, or better yet let me store years worth of issues in the palm of my hand. However for some, printing is the key to the future. What if I were to tell you a company has figured of the most eco-efficient way to shape a surfboard? What if I told you there were doing this in a place very far removed from the ocean? And better yet, what if I told you they were going to print your surfboard? Well you would probably tell me I am drunk. Well, I assure you I am not and here to spread the word about a revolution.
Last week I was sooo fortunate to get an email from Erik Johnson, co-founder at Made Boards, a company based in Chicago. They were into Preconceived Noceans and wanted to meet and talk about something they were doing. When Erik told me they were printing surfboards, I was confused, (may have been thinking he was drunk) and a little scared. But when I met up with Erik in Brooklyn and got a chance to talk to him about what they were doing, I got that rush (kinda like that feeling of catching your first wave). They are legitimately using 3-D printing technologies to print a board. If you haven’t gotten that through yet, yes printing a freaking surfboard!!!
Now you might be thinking, Cole, surfboards out of machines suck! There is no soul in the boards, they are machined out without any consideration for the rider or waves he is riding. Why on earth would you want to get a board like that when you can find a local shaper have have him make it preciously for you?
Imagine Made having the abilities of a local hand shaper to cater specifically to an individual, while having better quality control then most major surfboard factories. The goal at Made is to be able to have a surfer come to them with certain shape specifics in mind, from the bottom contours, to the rocker, to the rails, and for them to be able to produce that board perfectly with a 3-D printer. EVEN BETTER, the process of 3-D printing is an additive process, vs. the traditional process of shaving away foam from a block. The printer lays down only the materials that are needed to create the ribs or skeleton of the board. They then cover it in Bamboo (if I am not mistaken) and glass it. This means no waste of materials and no harmful foam dust floating around.
Wow…I know…and I hope it blows your mind as much as it did mine! Your next question may be when is this happening or when can I get one of these boards? Well they are up in running with their concepts and already have created a wind surfboard which they drove down to Florida and rode. Now the awesome team at Made are getting together and launching a Kickstarter account so they can buy the 3-D printer and make their dreams a reality.
I am super-stoked on this idea and what they are trying to do. I am definitely planning on getting out to Chicago soon to film this wizardry first hand and plan to incorporate it in the film or as a part of the Foam to Foam series.