jigsurf8Surfing is a sport and a hobby that has been around for centuries, with people from all around the world, all walks of life, and of both sexes taking part, no matter how cold of a climate they live in. While some people surf for the fun of it, and others do it competitively, if you were to ask a surfer to pinpoint one issue that they wish they could resolve, it would probably be the fact that it is extremely difficult to transport a surfboard from place to place. With sizes ranging on average between 5’7″ and 9’4″, the portability of these boards is something not easily done. That is unless you are a man named Max Robotham.

Robotham, who is currently a student majoring in Industrial Design at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, is both an avid surfer and a “maker.” In thinking back to his childhood, he remembered days when all he wanted to do was be out on the water surfing.

“However, due to the size, shape and weight of my surfboard, I was forced to wait for my parents to finish work to give me a lift to the beach,” Robotham tells 3DPrint.com. “I would have been waiting hours on end until I would eventually arrive just in time to miss the optimal waves. Skip forward 8 years and I’m a poor student in Wellington, with no car, and you don’t see many surfers in a wetsuit taking their boards on the bus.”

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On top of this, anytime he wishes to travel, he is met with the issue of expensive fees for bringing his surfboard on an airplane. With all this in mind, Robotham began thinking about how he could create a surfboard that could collapse and fit into a duffle bag so he could more easily transport and carry it wherever he wanted to go. After contemplating various design ideas, such as a telescopic or folding surfboard, he finally came up with an idea for a jigsaw-like constructed version which he calls Jigsurf.

After mocking up a a 1:5 scale design on Solidworks and then 3D printing it, he was able to pinpoint certain issues that would need to be corrected prior to printing out a full scaled version of his creation.

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“I went about creating a full scale version of a 5’9 board on Solidworks and after many variations and scale tests, I was finally ready to start 3D printing the final prototype,” Robotham tells us. “Due to the popularity of the printers at the university, I spent the next few weeks printing and refining. I spent a considerable amount of time on the connections, resulting in the curved dovetail joints that connect it all together.”

jigsurf4At his disposal were the university’s UP! 3D printers, which featured 10 x 10 x 10 cm, 12 x 12 x 12 cm, and 20 x 20 x 20 cm build volumes. However, in order to increase productivity he was granted permission to take an older model home so he could continue printing while away from school.

In all, the surfboard consists of 48 jigsaw-like pieces, each of which took around 3-4 hours to print out. Robotham says that he also would print out multiple pieces on a single print bed, in a process that would take around 10-14 hours to complete. In all, the total print time needed to create this 5’9″ surfboard was around 6 full days.

“The Jigsurf board consists of 2 styles of joints, one being a curved dovetail that connect pieces to assemble ‘slabs’, and another slot style joint in which the ‘slabs’ connect,” Robotham explains. “To add greater structural stability there is a 3mm high tensile steel cable running the edge of the board in which the slabs are slid onto, bringing the board together.”

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Once Robotham’s Jigsurf board was complete, a friend of his, named Mark Williamson, braved the cold and took the board into Lyall Bay, the main surf beach in Wellington, to test it out. It floated very well, but when a large wave hit the board, the wire running along the outside came free and the individual pieces started to disassemble and float away. Robotham, realizing that the problem arose from his lack of tightening the bolt holding the wire on correctly, reassembled the board, making sure to tighten it all the way this time. The subsequent test went much better, and his friend was able to successfully use the Jigsurf board to surf the waves of the bay.

The project, one which Robotham says he hopes to continue working on once he gets more free time, garnered quite a bit of attention from Victoria University’s Faculty of Architecture and Design. In fact, they have decided to use his creation for the cover of their Architecture and Design Handbook for 2016.

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Future iterations on his design will include looking into 3D printing a nose guard for the board, along with a traction pad and leash, all using more flexible 3D printable materials. He will also look into developing a system of easily customizing the shape, size and style of future boards.

What do you think about this incredible 3D printed surfboard? Is this the future of portability? Discuss in the 3D Printed Jigsurf Board forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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