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Building a carbon fiber longboard

  • 1.  Building a carbon fiber longboard

    Posted 06-07-2018 15:25
    I found this question on another forum, and it brought up more questions than answers. (like what resin, why printed core….).
    "Building a carbon fiber longboard. How many layers of 3k plain weave should i use or how do i figure out how much to use? I'm planning on making an aluminum mold, contemplating between cork or 3d printed core. "
    So my question for the community is, if you were going to design and build a really cool and interesting longboard for yourself, what would your design look like, what materials would you use, how would you process them, and how would you use for tooling?

    Claude Segal

  • 2.  RE: Building a carbon fiber longboard

    Posted 06-08-2018 11:43

    I don't know the answers to these questions but I might know a good resource. Google "Sacrificial Boards" (I'm having issues posting a link). This small shop does custom snowboards and longboards out of composites in the Puget Sound, Washington area. The guy who runs it also teaches classes at a local college where you actually make a board. I took his snowboard class (and have a really awesome powder board now!). Damien is very knowledgeable and will be able to give some insights.  

    Katelyn Virga
    Materials and Processes Engineer
    The Boeing Company
    Everett, WA

  • 3.  RE: Building a carbon fiber longboard

    Posted 06-08-2018 13:31
    A long time ago I sat next to a surfboard builder on the plane going home from Maui.  He talked about his surf boards, which were the traditional fiberglass composite over foam core.  Right before I was going to suggest switching from glass fiber to graphite fiber, he told me about how nicely they flexed during the ride and that a board that was too stiff would nose into the water and flip the rider (= no good).  He designed his boards to have just the right amount of flex to work with the water and ride the wave all the way to shore.  I decided to refrain from trying to convince him to use graphite fiber at that point.

    What I got from the conversation was that it is really important to talk to the surfboard builder and some surfers to see what characteristics they like in a "good" board.  Do they want some longitudinal flexibility?  Do they want torsional rigidity?  Do they want some heft to the board, or will a super light board be better?  Composite materials offer all kinds of options to tailor material properties.  We need to know what properties they actually want.

  • 4.  RE: Building a carbon fiber longboard

    Posted 06-14-2018 17:15
    ​I would like to echo John's comments. Our student SAMPE chapter at SDSMT constructed a carbon fiber long board a couple years ago, and while it looks nice and serves as a great conversation starter, it is incredibly stiff which makes it extremely challenging to ride. Like John said, there are many possible designs, so understanding what the user wants is very important.

    That being said, to answer your original question, we used UD CF, RT cure epoxy, and a foam core to form a very basic, flat, ~40 inch x ~10 inch long board. We also placed a grip tape on top, from which we cut out our school logo, and purchased a wheel kit online. It looks nice, but is pretty basic. If you develop a new design, please share!

    Eric Schmid
    CAPE Lab - SDSMT
    Rapid City, SD

  • 5.  RE: Building a carbon fiber longboard

    Posted 06-15-2018 14:43
    I've been thinking about this myself.

    For the stacking sequence, changing up the plain weave from the 0/90 configuration to a +45/-45 every now and then should help with your damage tolerance. The number of layers could be determined from a 3 point bending problem, but there could be a lot of variation in the number of layers depending upon what kind of ride you want.  It wouldn't be a bad idea to add in few layers extra on the bottom (for scrapes), tail ends (for when you inevitably send it crashing into a wall), and where the trucks attach.

    Core Material: Something cheap, flexible, and light would be ideal bamboo may be a good option.

    If you're looking into doing VARTM or Wet layup with a room temperature cure epoxy then you could look into 3D printing your tool or make it out of wood (low cost). The only real difference with prepregs being the temperature that your tooling will be exposed to.  From there you could put a couple poly coatings onto the tool to get a smooth finish. You'd want to do then put a couple coats of mold release onto your newly developed tooling to make sure you could release it.  Due to the complex curvatures that you're going to want to hold your feet when carving and sliding you will probably want a mold and a male or female tool. The easiest thing would be to do wet layup and lay your plies on the mold wrap it around your core then put the male tool on and put it all under vacuum.

    It seems like it would be a fun project but it would be difficult to get the ride just right

    Cyrus Vakili Rad
    Graduate Student
    University of South Carolina
    Columbia SC