For over 50 years, surfboard producers have stuck steadfast to one tried-and-tested manufacturing method. A spine is formed from a strand of wood, called a stringer, and attached into a foam exterior made of a flexible material called polyurethane. The entire thing is then sanded and encased in decorated resin and fiberglass.
For Edison Conner, breaking the mold for improving the manufacturing of surfboards wasn’t rocket science, just solid chemical engineering.
The former SpaceX rocket scientist and now co-founder of Varial Surf Technology worked with engineers to develop a new style of surfboard that would be lighter, more durable and easier for a surfer to stay in control. They used ultrarigid foam, which is 30% stronger, 25% lighter and seven times stiffer than the foam generally used in surfboards now.
Chemically changing the polymers of the foam created more crystals in rigid polymer lattices. The crystals also have cells with thinner walls, allowing for more cells to be in a tighter, polygonal cell structure. Traditionally-made surfboards use polyurethane foam with a loose, bubble-like cell structure, which makes it soft and weak. But in Varial’s new style of surfboard, the structure results in a honeycomb of stronger, firmer foam.
The raw foam technology is then sent to shapers, who form the final product, explained co-founder Parker Borneman, speaking to IFLScience via email.
The surfboard also has greater buoyancy and strength in the waves. And it’s attracting the attention of top surfers. Top pro surfer Shane Dorian comments that the Varial surfboards are “ultra light” with great responsiveness in head-high or smaller waves.
If you want to get your hands on a Varial surfboard, check out the website for retailers near you.
[H/T: Popular Science]