3D Printed Surfboard

You whippersnappers these days with your 3D printers! Back in our day, we had to labor over a blank for hours, getting all sweaty and covered in foam dust. And it still wouldn’t come out symmetric. Shaping a surfboard used to be an art, and now you’re just downloading software and slinging STLs.

Joking aside, [Jody] made an incredible surfboard (yes, actual human-sized surfboard) out of just over 1 kilometer of ABS filament, clocking 164 hours of printing time along the way. That’s a serious stress test, and of course, his 3D printer broke down along the way. Then all the segments had to be glued together.

But the printing was the easy part; there’s also fiberglassing and sanding. And even though he made multiple mock-ups, nothing ever goes the same on opening night as it did in the dress rehearsal. But [Jody] persevered and wrote up his trials and tribulations, and you should give it a look if you’re thinking of doing anything large or in combination with fiberglass.

Even the fins are 3D printed and the results look amazing! We can’t wait for the ride report.


25 thoughts on “3D Printed Surfboard

      1. Using the proper cement will bond the plastic with a joint every bit as strong as a welded joint and sometimes stronger. There is nothing wrong with cementing sections of plastic together.
        I’ve seen cemented plastic joints on 4″ Schedule 80 PVC pipe withstand water hammers on top of a static pressure of more than 100 psi. I wouldn’t trust a hand welded plastic joint under that kind of stress.

        1. The glue or cement is actually stronger than the actual plastic in many cases.

          The problem with plastic welding is that the bulk plastic contains long entangled hydrocarbon fibers, which is to say, polymers. They stick together like two phone books with their pages interleaved, and the point where the parts are welded together is like two phonebooks interleaved but only by an inch. It doesn’t have the “friction” to hold up and comes apart when you pull on it. This is also why 3D printed parts are prone to delamination; the layers aren’t properly mixed to one another. The same thing happens if you adhere plastic together with a solvent, or a solvent based glue – only a thin surface layer of polymers get mixed together.

          A proper plastic glue makes strong chemical bonds with the polymers – and as long as the glue polymer is strong, the seam will be strong.

          1. Ramen to that…

            Welding plastic a a F#@kload trickier than it looks, especially if the base plastic has aged at all.

            Did you know that almost all thermoplastic compounds need to age to achieve equilibrium? This affects not only their dimensional stability but weldability as well? Things grow, shrink, warp, etc?

            I think the idea of a printable surfboard is cool, but the materials aren’t up to snuff. Fiberglass, foam core and polyester resin wasn’t just used because it was available, it was because it had the highest achievable strength-vs.-mass modulus and could be formed almost without concern for the shape. Every time something better came along (vacuum bagging, epoxy, carbon fibre etc) came along it was used on it’s own merits in that it made the board stronger, lighter, faster. ABS is a great engineered polymer, but isn’t really the best thing for this job.

            The article also points out one other flaw-the inability to create large, high-volume objects easily. I would likely guess the board design was chosen on size. I couldn’t see a longboard done this way, but a longboard skateboard? Doable, and their might be an advantage to it.

    1. The solvent welding was intended to hold the board together long enough to get the glass on. The joints were not a problem. I had more trouble with the layers cracking if the board wasn’t supported properly. I had to build a form for the initial glassing. I never thought this board would last long, just wanted to try something cool. And it gave me a reason to build a bigger 3d printer!

  1. I hope it works well, but I’m not holding my breath. Buoyancy and weight are already balanced when using foam. Air pockets and ABS not so much. Unfortunately, I’ve had the experience of “riding” a plastic air-filled surfboard. It was too buoyant. Near impossible to stand on because it wanted to be completely above the water. When it was mounted successfully, one wrong move and it would rocket out of the water right toward your genitals.

    1. Actually I was thinking that printing a mold for the foam would be a better method.
      Make the mold, pour in some expanding foam, fiberglass it.
      Reuse the mold to make as many blanks as you want.

    2. This board rides heavy but maneuvers pretty well. It has a lot of glass so that takes away much of that buoyancy you experienced with the plastic board, I don’t like those boards. I’ve only taken this one out a couple times to find the leaks and test the shape. My son will be pissed if I mess it up before he rides it this summer. He’s only 8 and not interested in going out while the water is cold.

        1. It would be real hard to design something “wacky” in boardCAD that is still functional. An Asymmetrical board is not possible for instance. I’m considering a different print direction and more artsy design for the hollow part. The print direction limits the design to 45-50 degrees of center climb which is why I went with the simple geometry on the first go around.

  2. This is freaking awesome!! Finally a good product from 3d printing because of the fiberglass. They pretty much printed a fiberglass mold which is all I think 3d printing is good for.

    PS to the dum dums up above epoxy is not easier than welding and it is much stronger it is a stick gooey runny mess and easy to eff up! The fiberglass is really what gives this thing usefullness, bravo to the manufacturer.

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