3D printed fins for surfboards

UOW Team surfer Nick Clifford during testing at Macaronis in Indonesia.

Surfing is an iconic sport that is extremely popular in coastal regions, including the South Coast of NSW in Australia. The Illawarra is a hotbed of surfers and surfboard makers.

Current surfboard fin manufacturers produce high end products using an expensive injection moulding process to create hydro-foil shaped fins. This process, however, does not allow for easy customisation or rapid prototyping.

In this project surfboard fins are develop using a performance feedback loop. This loop involves the unique combination of computational fluid dynamics, computer aided design, 3D printing, stiffness/flex testing, ocean testing (surfing the waves), embedded sensors / wearables, the Internet-of-Things, machine learning and surfers’ perceptive experiences.

We have already established that additive manufacturing (3D printing) is a viable alternative for manufacturing surfboard fins. For example, it allows for the rapid prototyping and testing of new fin shapes, including optimising fin shapes on a daily cycle. 

The expected outcomes of this project include (but are not limited to) creating a product cycle that allows for rapid testing (including performance analysis) of surfboard fins, enabling the design of fin shapes with improved performance relative to those commercially available.


Main funder: UOW Global Challenges (since 2015).

Click here for our Global Challenges Project website