The most common types of surfboards are short boards and longboards. Shortboards have a shorter length than longboards, which extend the entire length of your body from ankle to waist. Most people ride these two kinds because they’re more versatile and easier to transport when you travel or stay at home. They can also be modified into other forms like SUPs and skimboards.
Surfers usually use them while riding waves on their knees instead of standing up with feet planted firmly on the ground. Longboards are generally longer but heavier than shortboards. Their larger size makes it harder to stand up on them without using your hands as support against the board. But if you prefer surfing aggressively by standing up and paddling yourself along the water’s surface, then longboards should not trouble you too much.
Here we will focus mainly on both shortboards and longboards. We’ll discuss how each one is made and what material is used to make its outer layer. Let us start with polymers here and the full article on how surfboards are made check out here.
Most commonly known as PE, Polyethyelene Resin is a thermoplastic polymer that has been around since 1940s. It was first developed by scientists working for DuPont Chemical Company who wanted to create an impact resistant plastic for military vehicles. The resulting product became so popular among consumers that demand for this plastic started booming. Nowadays, PE is mostly found in cars’ bumpers, side mirrors, dashboards, interior panels and even safety helmets. Because of its durability, light weight, low cost and high strength, PE is widely used today for building surfing boats, kayaks, sailboats and windsurfing equipment.
You may think that there aren’t any differences between different brands of PE resins except the price tag. But actually there are subtle yet significant distinctions between them. For example, some companies produce their own brand of PE resin while others buy theirs wholesale from suppliers abroad. This determines the quality level of the final products.
After PE, epoxy resin is probably the second most famous marine plastic ever invented. Epoxies were originally produced during World War II as binding agents to hold together metal parts such as gun barrels. After the war ended, they were largely forgotten until 1953, when American chemist Harry Coover discovered that he could combine certain chemicals together to form a new kind of hard rubber compound called “aeroblast.” He named his invention after this discovery – Aeroplastics Corporation. Two years later, Aeroblast was commercially manufactured and sold under the name Bakelite.
In 1958, another company bought all US rights to manufacture Bakelite and renamed itself General Electric Plastic Products Incorporated. That same year, GEPI launched the world’s first mass-produced transparent plastics, initially intended for electrical insulation purposes. Over time, however, people began to see potential uses of this amazing substance outside of electronics industry.
As early as 1960s, surfboard manufacturers started incorporating Bakelite pieces into their craft due to its unique properties. Since then, this durable and nonporous plastic has become synonymous with the term “Surfboard”. Today, almost every single modern surfboard out there comes equipped with multiple layers of epoxy resin and fiberglass reinforcements. There are many variations of epoxy resins available nowadays including solid state curing systems and liquid mixing kits. Some companies specialize in producing custom models suited specifically for individual needs.
In terms of construction materials, epoxy resin is very similar to polyethylene resin. Both are thermoplastic polymers whose molecules bond together through chemical reactions involving heat energy. However, epoxy is less flexible than PE resin and thus requires higher temperatures to melt. Its glass transition temperature is approximately 130 degrees Fahrenheit whereas PE resin’s Tg reaches only 90 F. So far, epoxy is still considered to be the best choice for creating super strong composite structures.
And unlike polyolefin resins, epoxy doesn’t degrade over time nor does it emit harmful fumes upon combustion. On top of that, epoxy resins possess excellent resistance towards UV rays and extreme cold weather conditions. Therefore, they’ve recently gained popularity among outdoor enthusiasts eager to build their own DIY shelters.
But despite all its benefits, there are downsides associated with epoxy resin. One such downside is its brittleness. Unlike polyethylene resin which gradually softens and becomes weaker with age, epoxy tends to get brittle faster than anything else. Another disadvantage is that epoxy isn’t recyclable. To avoid wasting raw materials, epoxy must be disposed properly once it stops being useful. Lastly, it takes several hours to complete a typical epoxy manufacturing process. Each step involves heating, pouring and cooling down phases. Due to that tediousness, epoxy production costs tend to be quite expensive compared to those of other alternatives.
While Bakelite remains relatively unknown among regular surfers, its importance cannot be overlooked especially for hardcore wave riders. Back in 1930s, French engineer Joseph Bancelle came across a way to improve wood fibers’ mechanical characteristics by wrapping them tightly inside thin sheets of cellulose acetate. His idea turned out successful and soon after that, he founded Société Anonyme des Industries Mécaniques et de l’Industrie Chimique du Japon (SAIMICJ).
SAIMICJ subsequently patented the technology behind this breakthrough and eventually built factories in Japan. By 1943, the firm had grown enough to open offices in France and Germany. During 1950s and 60s, SAIMICJ expanded further worldwide. Eventually, the company changed its name to Nippon Shokubai Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (“Nikkal”) and went public in 1972.
Around that time, Nikkal released its first line of surfboards made from scratch using its proprietary blend of advanced composites and adhesives. These innovative designs would soon earn Nikkals recognition as a leading manufacturer of premium performance sports gear. Although Nikkal stopped actively participating in the business in 1991, its legacy lives on thanks to numerous professional athletes wearing Nikkals’ signature logo on their shirts.
Today, Nikkal continues to develop cutting edge technologies for surfboards, snowboarding boots and ski gloves. With headquarters located near Tokyo, Nikkal produces everything from prototypes to finished goods right on site. Every day, skilled craftsmen meticulously put together hundreds of units of various shapes and sizes destined for sale. Using traditional hand crafting techniques and utilizing superior grade materials, Nikkal creates incredibly strong yet lightweight surfboards capable of enduring heavy abuse.
At the core of each Nikkal design lies a core structure composed of carefully selected combinations of high density foam, Kevlar aramid yarn, carbon fibre and epoxy resins. A majority of Nikkal’s surfboards feature reinforced bottoms and edges to ensure stability regardless of whether you’re catching air off a barrel or walling off a kick turn. You might find it difficult to believe that some of Nikkals’ current offerings weigh just 4 pounds per foot. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what happens when you take away unnecessary features and replace them with lighter weight elements.
So that wraps up our little lesson on what type of resin is used surfboards. Hopefully now you’d be able to distinguish between different types of materials used in making different varieties of surfboards. Next week, I’m going to write about important details you need to consider before buying a new one. Until next time my friends! Stay stoked!
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