Roy Stuart is a man who knows a thing or two about surfboards. The New Zealand-based designer has spent much of his life designing innovative boards using unique and pioneering techniques. It’s unsurprising, then, to hear that Stuart’s recently taken an interest in 3D printing and how it could be applied to his craft.
His latest design is the Warp Drive fin, which takes its inspiration from the humpbacked whale and was rendered in collaboration with leading Kiwi 3D print firm Palmer Design and Manufacturing, who are based in the city of Tauranga.
Stuart looked closely at the pectoral fins of humpback whales, which are hollow in their core and feature surface tubercles. He decided this was perfect for a board’s fin, a key component that influences the stability and maneuverability of the surfer. This led him to design the Warp Drive BLEF, standing for Bumpy Leading Edge Foil.
He took this design to Palmer Design and Manufacturing who adapted it into a Computer Aided Design model. This could then be printed in polycarbonate to give it the solidity and finish it needed. It was then tested for durability using a number of strength tests like the one in the video below.
The fins can be ordered in any size between 6.5 inches and 9 inches, with the prices ranging from $82 to $164 and will fit into any standard board’s fin box.
The process of manufacturing a surfboard fin traditionally takes about 40 hours to complete. Creating them in fibreglass, in particular, is difficult as it is tough to mould and pricey. With 3D printing, however, it can be handled with far more speed and cost effectiveness. Additive manufacturing also opens up the door for more unconventional designs and speeds up the process of prototyping, which allows for more varied experimentation. As Stuart puts it:
We can more or less do anything we want now.