Ross School - Senior Project 2006-07
Mentor: Hugh McGuiness
Consultant: Chris Winsor
Domains: Science/Visual Arts
Title: A Greener Surfboard
My Senior Project explores alternatives to manufacturing surfboards in order to make a more environmentally friendly surfboard. In my project wrote an essay on alternatives to petroleum-based polymers for the purpose of making a more environmentally and economically sustainable surfboard. This essay is a basis for a future business plan. I also designed and hand shaped my own surfboard using the toxic materials that are used today. This helped me gain a greater understanding of what needs to be changed in the surfboard industry. Finally, I used my knowledge gained from the personal experience of shaping a surfboard and what I discovered from researching alternatives to surfboard production in order to further encourage the alternative that I found most possible.
Looking back on my senior project I have learned many new skills. The first and foremost one is shaping a surfboard. My ability to shape a surfboard and knowledge of surfboard design and shaping techniques has greatly increased over this three-month period. Over my visits with my outside community member I have learned how to make a surfboard blank, measure and draw a surfboard shape on the blank using a template, make the right calculations in order for the board to perform well and have it fit to the desired size and weight of the rider it is being made for, jigsaw skills in order to cut out the template from the foam, sanding and planning skills in order to mold the desired shape of the board, glass a surfboard using epoxy resin and fiberglass, use rice paper to put pictures or designs under the glass of the board, put fin-plugs in the finished blank, and put a leash plug in a surfboard. Finally my finished project was a rideable and aesthetically pleasing surfboard. Along with learning shaping skills I was also opened up to a kind of intense research that had more so to do with talking to professionals in certain fields then just reading sources.
During the other half of my senior project, which was to research and develop alternatives for polystyrene and polyurethane surfboard blanks, I deeply struggled with finding information on this particular subject. This lack of information caused me to have to call certain companies and experts, un-relentlessly I might add, in order to answer my own questions, whether it be about there products, other products like theirs, or scientific questions about the make-up of certain types of foam in general. Having to do this worked on my people skills and also gave me a greater feeling of achievement when I completed a task I had set out for myself. This research I feel will help me throughout my entire life because it is skills that I will most likely have to use in years to come.
I hope to continue shaping surfboards as a hobby but not as a career. The research aspect of the project I see myself going towards as a means for an income. Having an uncle on the board of Al Merrick (a major surfboard manufacturing company) will allow me to send my idea of creating blanks out of starch foam to a contact. Hopefully, if all goes well, the company may invest in my idea. Before this is done I will still need to build a prototype of the starch foam surfboard and work out its flaws, if any.
In retrospect I feel this project was highly educational and I got a lot out of it. Surfing is something I hold very close to me and I am interested in making a career out of it, whatever it may be.
Breiler, David, and Matt Smith. "Biodegradable PLA/Starch
Based Foam." 2005. Michigan Tech. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007
Dunn, Collin. "Sustainable Surfboard by the Eden
Project." Treehugger. 23 Aug. 2005.
Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.treehugger.com/files/2005/08/
"Eco Board Hits the Waves." The Green Guy. 28 Mar. 2006. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://thegreenguy.typepad.com/thegreenguy/2006/03/eco_board_hits_.html>.
"Eden Takes Eco Board to California to Help Surfing World
Go Green." Sharkbait. 2006. Viewed
12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.sharkbait.co.uk/frontstories/
"Green Cell: Biodegradable Engineered Foam." KTM Industries. 2002. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.ktmindustries.com/greencell/info.html>.
"Homeblown Surfing Technology Goes Global." GNN:
Governement News Network. 5 July 2006.
Viewed12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.gnn.gov.uk/content/
Jennings, Roger. "No More U.S. Custom Surfboards?" Squidoo. 24 Sept. 2006. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.squidoo.com/surfboards/>.
Keller, Michael. Telephone interview. 10 Jan. 2007.
Mauro, Chris. "Surf World Shocker: Clark Foam Shuts Down." SurferMag. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.surfermag.com/features/onlineexclusives/clarkfoam/>.
McMahon, Ned. “The Case for Polyurethane.” Wetsand. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.wetsand.com/
"Mobius Technologies: the Complete Solution for
Polyurethane Recycling." Mobius.
2000. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.mobiustechnologies.com/images/
"National Pollutant Inventory Substance Profile: Toluene-2,4-Diisocyanate." Australian Governement: Department of Environment and Heritage. 18 June 2004. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.npi.gov.au/database/substance-info/profiles/82.html>.
"Raise Your Hand If You Surf." Transworld Business. 05 Jan. 2001. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007
Rowe, David, ed. "Eden Pioneers Sustainable Surfing." Eden Project. July 2004. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.edenproject.com/about/1364.html>.
"Shapes: News and Information From the SIMA Board Builders Special Interest Group." Sima: Surf Industry Manufacturers Association. (2006): Viewed 12 Jan. 2007 <http://www.sima.com/cms/pdfs/5-06%20Brd%20Bldr%20Nwsltr2.pdf>.
"Sony Global - Recycling Technology." Sony. 2006. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007
Warshaw, Matt. "Who Knows." Surfline. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007
"Who We are Overview." Surfrider. 2006. Viewed 12 Jan. 2007
Community Member (Details)
Members Name: Chris Winsor
Day One: Meeting with Chris went well. The drive up to Center Moriches was a pain but once I got up there everything went well. I learned how to make my own blank today. By cutting through a large block of foam with a hot wire and then using an adhesive to glue the to pieces of foam to either side of a ¼ inch thick piece of plywood you have a blank. I made the blank for the board I would be shaping and then drove home.
Day 2: Got to the shaping bay, starting shaping right away. I learned all the techniques it takes to shape a board as should in my process folio. I enjoyed the process of it but all the fumes and foam particles gave me a sore throat.
Day 3: Got to the shaping bay late, Chris was mad at me. I glassed half the board and placed the design of an eye I had drawn on rice paper under the fiber-glass. Glassing was very stressful and not that fun. I enjoy the shaping aspect much better.