The University of Wollongong is creating custom-designed, 3D printed surfboard fins, which can be adapted for each surfer's unique needs.
When it comes to sports equipment, the tiniest change in design can affect performance, which is why 3D printing is a welcome addition to the industry. We have already seen a made-to-order, 3D printed ankle ligament which protects the wearer from sprains, and now researchers at the University of Wollongong in Australia are creating custom-designed 3D printed surfboard fins, which can be adapted for each particular surfer or wave.
The fin of the surfboard is essential for control and stability while surfing, but they are currently created using moulds, making them very expensive to customize on an individual basis. By using 3D printing, researchers at UOW are able to rapidly prototype and adapt designs for individual surfers’ needs. The team, led by Professor Panhuis, have been using a small GPS tracking device, fitted to the nose of the boards, in order to compile data on fin and surfing performance. For each prototype, the team collects data on the performance of surfers at varying levels of ability and they have already tracked more than 1,400 waves and 1,100 turns, and produced several fins using the 3D printing equipment.
The team is in discussion with a number of local surfboard manufacturers and they hope to offer their mass-customization service in Wollongong first before expanding.
What other sports equipment could be personalized using 3D printing techniques?