Thursday, July 23, 2015
The Future of Surfing: 3D-Printed Fins and Accessories for Catching Waves
The purity of surfing is a huge part of its allure; out on the water, it’s just you and a board, waiting until the perfect wave comes along. Although surfing can be extraordinarily difficult, it’s not hard to find a novice beach and practice standing up on a longboard. Unlike many other sports, surfing has a fairly low barrier to entry; you can buy a used board and a wetsuit for a few hundred dollars and dive right in. With 3D printing, the laid-back culture has also adopted some new design techniques for shaping surfboard fins, wax combs, and other waterproof accessories. 3D Systems has helped pave the way for this radical gear, along with companies like Ho Stevie and Disrupt Surfboards, who each have a unique vision for how 3D printing can improve surfers’ lives. Below, we’ve showcased some of the most exciting products to come out so far.
Available as a free download, the Freshfiber design team has come up with printable surfboard fins in three striking styles — full moon, barrel, and waves. They all have a retro surfing vibe, and you can choose up to three filament colors to give your board some extra flair. The precise shape and durable material of these fins make them a worthy addition to your favorite board, providing balance and speed from the tri-fin setup. The left and right fins can be printed in one piece, but the center fin requires some minimal gluing of its two parts. For a first project, this is an excellent way to see the possibilities of 3D printing technology, with a final product that can be enjoyed on the boundless ocean.
For some people, surfing isn’t as satisfying as bodysurfing, since a large fiberglass board keeps you from fully connecting to the waves. Bodysurfing can be more physically strenuous, but the pleasure of riding a barrel is definitely worth the effort. Typically, a bodysurfer will stay on a wave by shaping their body in an aerodynamic way, extending an arm to harness some of that kinetic energy. That’s where the handplane comes in. Like a miniature surfboard that attaches to your hand, a 3D-printed handplane allows you to orient your body in the right direction and surf even faster.
Mouth Mount Camera
To document your ride, the folks at Ho Stevie have come up with a truly unconventional way to shoot surf videos and still maintain control of the board. First, they took a waterproof housing for a GoPro camera and attached a 3D-printed mount to the top, along with a silicone mouthpiece that looks like the end of a snorkel. This mouth P.O.V. allows surfers to film what’s directly in front of them, resulting in awe-inspiring footage of cresting waves and the surrounding landscape.
Finally, for those in need of a new surf tool, Freshfiber’s free-to-print Wax Comb combines an edger, scraper, bottle opener, and comb into one compact design. Printed as one solid piece, the comb also has a strap-sized hole so you don’t lose it in the water. Not only will your surf buddies admire the ingenuity of this tool, but they’ll also be amazed when they find out that you made it at home.