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How 3D printing could revolutionise the sport of surfing

Surfers could create their own custom fins as UOW researchers bring additive manufacturing to surfboard design 

Ever dreamed of surfing some of the world’s best surf breaks all in the name of research?

That’s exactly what a team of students and academics from the University of Wollongong (UOW) did on a recent trip to the remote Mentawai Islands, located off West Sumatra in Indonesia.

The task for the UOW team of six surfers and three researchers was to surf test new shapes of 3D-printed surfboard fins, a project funded by the UOW Global Challenges program.

The surfer preferred designed fin, nicknamed “the Crinkle Cut”, has a series of grooves on one side of the fin.

“Think of a potato crisp, hence the name crinkle cut,” says Professor Marc in het Panhuis, an expert in additive manufacturing at UOW and one of the lead researchers on the project.

“The reason this fin shape works so well is because the contours improve the way the water flows past it. These contours ultimately give the surfer more speed. The fins also seemed to offer plenty of drive and projection out of turns.”

The team of researchers from UOW are hoping to kick-start a niche manufacturing industry and revolutionise surfboard designs with their 3D-printed fins.

3d--Fins-collage_1200x1052Surfers and UOW researchers test new 3D-printed surf fin technology at the Mentawai Islands, off West Sumatra, Indonesia.


 Read the full story and find more photos and video here.