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.