While Christmas and New Year’s are far behind us, it’s still winter and, in Ohio at least, the bitter cold isn’t going away anytime soon. But instead of burying ourselves in blankets and grumbling about the freezing temperatures outside, there is always another option – hitting the slopes.

It’s easy to forget how cold you are when you’re whizzing down the hill, surrounded by white powder with the wind whipping past your face…until you get to the bottom and are reminded. While I personally prefer sledding and skiing, I have some friends who are die-hard snowboarders.

3D printing can be put to use to make winter tools and sporting apparel and equipment, like snowboards, along with some interesting snowboard enhancements, like an easy Step-On binding system.

Snowboard manufacturer Capita is a fan, and is turning to the technology to enhance its product and reduce waste. While every company makes snowboards a little differently, the structure is basically the same.

A snowboard’s sidewall is the area along the edge of the board, and depending on how the layers of each edge are finished, can be made in one of three ways.

[Image: Mechanics of Sport]

The company is using an FFF 3D printing technique to build stronger sidewalls for its snowboards, which will also generate less waste than its previous method. Conventional techniques for constructing sidewalls mean milling a wood core, then attaching four pieces of ABS, which can take a long time and creates a lot of waste. Other companies have tried urethane resin sidewalls, which did help to streamline the manufacturing process, but the cores were not as durable this way.

Capita’s new patented technology, FUS3D, allows it to cut out a single piece of sidewall using a custom machine. Then, it’s connected to the wooden core of the snowboard. The sidewall itself is made of a strong, recyclable thermoplastic that, once connected to the core, ramps up the board’s durability.

Because of FUS3D, the core is also more responsive and flexible, which extends the life of the snowboard and increases its performance. As you can imagine, these features are very important for riders who spend most of the winter out on the slopes.

Using 3D printing to enhance the core of its boards could shift the company’s entire construction philosophy, and recently gained Capita an Innovation Award from Digital Trends, which partnered with The Manual at this winter’s Outdoor Retailer show in Denver to recognize the year’s most innovative outdoor gear.

Four awards went to the most innovative products, which included Capita’s new FUS3D technology.

The company’s award entry reads, “Since its inception, snowboard manufacturing has produced a ton of waste. By attaching four pieces of ABS plastic to a wood core board, companies would often be left with heaps of leftover material after a laborious process. In an attempt to reimagine the wheel, Capita Snowboards turned to a 3D printing approach called Fused Deposition Modeling which allows it to cut a single piece of custom sidewall to attach to a board’s core. While other attempts at this in the past have compromised a board’s durability, Capita’s latest development dramatically increases its strength while also adding a host of performance improvements such as more responsiveness and flexibility. An innovative achievement, Capita unveiled the tech at Outdoor Retailer in its Spring Break line of boards but plans on implementing the unique 3D printing approach across its entire lineup next season.”

Capita will use its new core technology and 3D printed snowboard sidewalls for the first time in its popular Spring Break powder line of boards, though the company plans to introduce the technology to all of its snowboard series next season. I doubt that, after other snowboard companies see the success Capita has achieved by using 3D printing for its sidewall construction, they’ll wait too long before following suit.

Join the discussion of this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts in the Facebook comments below. 

[Source/Images: Digital Trends]

 

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