Construction methods - why not molded

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Richarli
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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Richarli » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 pm

I really think we need a disruptive technology to break this particular cycle.
Boards are no lighter and no more durable than 15 years ago.
With less than 5000 boards a year sales world wide compared with 250,000 plus 15 years ago we are witnessing the death of a product cycle.
We really need a " Halfords" approach with the equivalent of £100 mountain bike to re-invigorate the sport. It just cannot carry on selling niche products to pensioners if it wishes to survive.

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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Bouke/Witchcraft » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:06 pm

Molding a windsurfboard isn´t easy. There are many more different materials involved all with their specific properties. Jinli and Terminatech do or did a one shot molding technique with the result you had no control over what got stuck well and what didn´t. Various brands went bankrupt or nearly because of their quality. The factory that started molding with concrete molds is now bought by Cobra I heard. Then techniques used in F1 and airplanes are not suitable for windsurfboards as they use prepreg, which needs autoclaves and EPS would melt and PVC deform. F1 also has lots more money to play with. Other techniques such as VARTM actually uses too much resin, boards end up 1-2kgs heavier, if you manage to make the PVC airtight so you do not suck your EPS full of resin in the first place.

Apart from the already mentioned costs brands have, also sailing levels have gone up loads in the last 15-20 years and with that the forces on a board. The apex seem to have reached it´s max a few years back and now it seems the forces on boards are slowly going down again due to sailors getting older and less newcomers into the sport. At least I notice the demand for our HDD construction used to be like 80% and probably now is 50% and the other 50% are CBC, which still last about 3 times regular boards. But the old molding production methods of pre-sandwich times still are nowhere near good enough for todays standards/demands. 3D printing is also still a looong way off being able to produce a decent windsurf board.
I don´t think it´s the pricing of kit that stops people from getting into the sport. If you see what people spend on other stuff....It´s more that there are more alternatives now, some which may be less weather or location dependend, much easier to learn etc. I think windsurfing is by far the best sport, but explain that to someone who just wants to do a sport to pass time and keep fit. Many people these days want instant gratification. Sometimes I hear windsurfing schools are full in Germany, Spain. But not a lot keep on doing the sport long enough to get planing and get hooked. Sales have dropped so much over the last years.

So what remains is good old hand work. At least you can check each step in between before you continue with the next. Not easy either, even after 25 years I am still improving but for someone with a good pair of hands and technical insight, do-able after a few years of practice to make something a bit better than Cobra for less money.

I think it doesn´t really matter, we´ll probably see some brands disappear. Pryde Group (NP/JP) have been making a loss since many years and their owner is desperately looking for a CEO to change this or a buyer. Maybe even the whole Cobra based system may collaps. Those who will still be windsurfing will still be able to buy decent quality kit for decent prices. Getting rid of the whole PWA, advertising and distribution costs will save a lot of costs. And these costs do not make a board any better.
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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Ruaraidh_K257 » Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:37 am

Getting rid of them PWA seems pointless...yes it costs a lot of money to the industry but returns much more in publicity for the sport...


BTW aren’t Exocet and mistral returning to the industry as budget brands? Can’t speak for the quality but their prices look pretty good
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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Bouke/Witchcraft » Sun Jun 16, 2019 10:45 am

Ruaraidh_K257 wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:37 am
Getting rid of them PWA seems pointless...yes it costs a lot of money to the industry but returns much more in publicity for the sport...
Remember that end users (like you?) are the ones paying for the PWA. The brands add these costs to the prices. There are hardly any outside sponsors. I don´t know how much but my guess is that it is a couple of hundred per board with todays volumes. Are you willing to pay that much more? Anyway, if not enough kit gets sold, at some point the PWA as it is can´t be sustained. I think it is already hardly sustainable. I don´t know if the PWA is that important for publicity, hardly I think. There are many more ways through the internet nowadays that cost far less. Events like the Defi wind as well, are closer to the end user and cost far less. The industry and riders are just clinging to the last straws, not wanting to lose their last image advantage over customs and riders not wanting to find a normal job. Some still wouldn´t have to but that is something else.
Ruaraidh_K257 wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:37 am
BTW aren’t Exocet and mistral returning to the industry as budget brands? Can’t speak for the quality but their prices look pretty good
Can be but then I don´t think they will be produced at Cobra or a Cobra owned factory in that case. Cobra clearly told me in 2006 that if(!) they would be willing to produce boards for me, I would not be allowed to sell direct. Totally unheard of, I thought that why do they care how I would sell them, even if I would give them away if I´d wanted to, as long as they were being paid. I want to have the liberty to do what ever I want to do so I did not even enter in discussions on how I wanted my boards produced and if they were able to. And not sure how the quality of alternative factories is but some brands who produce there have asked me various times over the years if I can´t produce for them.
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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by BTB » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:34 pm

I agree the PWA events in Asia, light wind slalom, are of no real interest to me. Where as Defi looks great as does the Red Bull stomr chase - these are events that put the sailing first.

Back to construction technique. I'm a pretty heavy sailor and have never broken a board - even the old 90's gear that was a bit dodgy, Ive ridden a few to death (softness) but even then I have revived them with some crued surgery involving expanding foam. I have never snapped one.

My sugesstion is that a simplistic approach would work -with a crued mold made out of fiberglass and wood or whatever is available to reinforce. Once you can turn out the various shapes you can easily bond together sections and then expand foam directly into the hull. You can even build high density foam into the critical sections, build the mast track and center fin into a central stringer. I just dont see why a board can't be made like that with 4 or 5 molded sections. You could still use high end materials as the cost per board is not that high. With some playing around they could be just as strong.

The key difference is with current techniques there are days of skilled labour as one person works on each stage of the process building up the board in layers and sanding back the impefections. With molds you could easily set up numerous molds in 1 day and then maybe 1 more day to bond together and a final day for gel coat and finishing. Practically no sanding and each section would be smaller and easier to work with so you could turn out lots of sections.

Here's a video of a boat hull mold, the design is 3d printed then the mold is built around the 3d print using fiberglass supported by a metal frame. Take out the 3d print and just build a mold around a traditional board. If you can build a boat this way why not a board.
PS you can skip the 1st min or so - its just a printer making a template.

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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by PhilN » Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:48 pm

Ruaraidh_K257 wrote:
Sun Jun 16, 2019 8:37 am
BTW aren’t Exocet and mistral returning to the industry as budget brands?
Exocet never left.

They do make their Nano freeride in ASA skinned constructions for €1099. As far as I can work out, some of them are based on older Cross and SCross freeride designs, so decent shapes and might use old moulds hence the lower cost.

They still offer full carbon construction boards (Pro version) alongside glass (Cross Silver) & ASA (S-Line Silver) versions.

http://www.exocet-original.com/en/windsurf.php

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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Bouke/Witchcraft » Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:20 pm

BTB wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:34 pm
I agree the PWA events in Asia, light wind slalom, are of no real interest to me. Where as Defi looks great as does the Red Bull stomr chase - these are events that put the sailing first.

Back to construction technique. I'm a pretty heavy sailor and have never broken a board - even the old 90's gear that was a bit dodgy, Ive ridden a few to death (softness) but even then I have revived them with some crued surgery involving expanding foam. I have never snapped one.

My sugesstion is that a simplistic approach would work -with a crued mold made out of fiberglass and wood or whatever is available to reinforce. Once you can turn out the various shapes you can easily bond together sections and then expand foam directly into the hull. You can even build high density foam into the critical sections, build the mast track and center fin into a central stringer. I just dont see why a board can't be made like that with 4 or 5 molded sections. You could still use high end materials as the cost per board is not that high. With some playing around they could be just as strong.

The key difference is with current techniques there are days of skilled labour as one person works on each stage of the process building up the board in layers and sanding back the impefections. With molds you could easily set up numerous molds in 1 day and then maybe 1 more day to bond together and a final day for gel coat and finishing. Practically no sanding and each section would be smaller and easier to work with so you could turn out lots of sections.

Here's a video of a boat hull mold, the design is 3d printed then the mold is built around the 3d print using fiberglass supported by a metal frame. Take out the 3d print and just build a mold around a traditional board. If you can build a boat this way why not a board.
Simplistic approach? That 5 axis CNC milling machine must cost at least half a million. Plus the huge 3D printer and all the other machines they have. How many boards would you have to make for which retail price just to make that back? Then you still have not made a profit.

Really boats like that are dead cheap in materials (polyester resin and glasfibre mat, nothing woven) and labor. The profit/cost ratio is much higher compared to boards. Same with stuff like carbon bike frames. Then you can afford machines like that.

Like sometimes you get people with a board repair and if you quote 50 euros to properly repair and paint a hole they think it is expensive. Would we do the same work to a car, we could charge 5 times that and they would not complain.

When people see a broken board and there is nothing much to see, they wonder what they paid for but that is just the difficulty, boards are far lighter compared to their size than other composite products. Would there be more fibre (like in boats, bike frames etc.), it would be too heavy. I worked with various student engineers in composites and they said that we use far less resin than they did at their university working on high tech projects.

As Phil said, cheaper production methods already exist like the ASA construction, they are fine for beginners, fairly impact resistant and durable as long as they don´t get jumped or hammered over chop. And they are heavier as well but that does not matter at that stage. And for sure they are not the most sold constructions. It will be mostly schools that buy them and use them for years.

We offer 3 different constructions, the cheapest is still more durable than regular boards but hardly anyone choses that construction, less than 1%. So in my experience, most people don´t want cheap, they want quality.
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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by BTB » Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:36 pm

Bouke/Witchcraft wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 10:20 pm
BTB wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 2:34 pm
I agree the PWA events in Asia, light wind slalom, are of no real interest to me. Where as Defi looks great as does the Red Bull stomr chase - these are events that put the sailing first.

Back to construction technique. I'm a pretty heavy sailor and have never broken a board - even the old 90's gear that was a bit dodgy, Ive ridden a few to death (softness) but even then I have revived them with some crued surgery involving expanding foam. I have never snapped one.

My sugesstion is that a simplistic approach would work -with a crued mold made out of fiberglass and wood or whatever is available to reinforce. Once you can turn out the various shapes you can easily bond together sections and then expand foam directly into the hull. You can even build high density foam into the critical sections, build the mast track and center fin into a central stringer. I just dont see why a board can't be made like that with 4 or 5 molded sections. You could still use high end materials as the cost per board is not that high. With some playing around they could be just as strong.

The key difference is with current techniques there are days of skilled labour as one person works on each stage of the process building up the board in layers and sanding back the impefections. With molds you could easily set up numerous molds in 1 day and then maybe 1 more day to bond together and a final day for gel coat and finishing. Practically no sanding and each section would be smaller and easier to work with so you could turn out lots of sections.

Here's a video of a boat hull mold, the design is 3d printed then the mold is built around the 3d print using fiberglass supported by a metal frame. Take out the 3d print and just build a mold around a traditional board. If you can build a boat this way why not a board.
Simplistic approach? That 5 axis CNC milling machine must cost at least half a million. Plus the huge 3D printer and all the other machines they have. How many boards would you have to make for which retail price just to make that back? Then you still have not made a profit.

Really boats like that are dead cheap in materials (polyester resin and glasfibre mat, nothing woven) and labor. The profit/cost ratio is much higher compared to boards. Same with stuff like carbon bike frames. Then you can afford machines like that.

Like sometimes you get people with a board repair and if you quote 50 euros to properly repair and paint a hole they think it is expensive. Would we do the same work to a car, we could charge 5 times that and they would not complain.

When people see a broken board and there is nothing much to see, they wonder what they paid for but that is just the difficulty, boards are far lighter compared to their size than other composite products. Would there be more fibre (like in boats, bike frames etc.), it would be too heavy. I worked with various student engineers in composites and they said that we use far less resin than they did at their university working on high tech projects.

As Phil said, cheaper production methods already exist like the ASA construction, they are fine for beginners, fairly impact resistant and durable as long as they don´t get jumped or hammered over chop. And they are heavier as well but that does not matter at that stage. And for sure they are not the most sold constructions. It will be mostly schools that buy them and use them for years.

We offer 3 different constructions, the cheapest is still more durable than regular boards but hardly anyone choses that construction, less than 1%. So in my experience, most people don´t want cheap, they want quality.
I think my point here is they have a very expensive printer and CNC machine in action - and then the actual mold is an alloy frame and fiber glass that looks like my local garage could do it. But your right I guess there is not enough demand.

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Re: Construction methods - why not molded

Post by Bouke/Witchcraft » Wed Jun 19, 2019 11:18 am

BTB wrote:
Tue Jun 18, 2019 11:36 pm
I think my point here is they have a very expensive printer and CNC machine in action - and then the actual mold is an alloy frame and fiber glass that looks like my local garage could do it. But your right I guess there is not enough demand.
They make a positive mold by 3D printing and CNC milling to make the negative mold from. To print and mill the negative mold directly would have been much more complicated/impossible. So they do it like this and when the mold has worn, they can easily make a new one. If you design a boat (or board) in a computer, you need a way to convert that design in real life by a machine that runs from a computer. To keep the negative mold from deforming, they made a frame around it. Probably also just to be able to stand it up.

As the "mold" for boards is the EPS blank, which is much easier to mill and refine by hand, the CNC machine can be much smaller and simpler in 3 axis. Each axis added more than doubles the complexity, both computational as construction wise and at that size even more.
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