A Surfboard Made by a Rocket Scientist

(Photo: Varial)

Edison Conner, a rocket scientist who used to work for SpaceX, saw that surfboard design and manufacturing had not changed substantially in 50 years. It still consisted of mostly layers of fiberglass and resin over wood and foam. So Conner established a new company, Varial Surf Technology, and used the latest knowledge of materials science to develop a firm by extremely light surfboard. Popular Science reports:

They replaced the wooden stringer with an ultra­rigid foam similar to the type used in helicopter rotor blades and in rocket-propulsion systems. The foam is 30 percent stronger, with seven times the stiffness (or modulus) of conventional foam. It’s also 25 percent lighter. That means surfers have a board that’s easier to control and more durable.

Varial’s chemists altered the poly­mers of the foam, producing high levels of crystallinity. The crystallized foam consists of structured, rigid latticelike polymer chains. Crystallization also makes cell walls thinner. That lets chemists pack more cells into a tighter, more-angular (or poly­gonal) cell structure. The structure is stronger and firmer than the looser, more-bubblelike cell structure of conventional polyurethane foam.

Because these boards are so much lighter than common surfboards, they can be used to ride much smaller waves.

-via Glenn Reynolds

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