Riding the 3D Printing Wave

From jigsaw designs to new fins, surfers are finding exciting new ways to catch a wave with innovative uses of 3D printing technology.

3d printing

With over 30,000 kilometres of coastline on the mainland, Australia is a haven for water-based sports, particularly surfing. According to Surfing Australia, 1.25 million people in the country are active surfers. It's easy to understand the sport's popularity; Australia has some of the best waves and beaches in the world.

Now, the sport is getting a boost from 3D printing technology, as innovators in Australia and New Zealand are finding new ways to use additive manufacturing to improve on the surfboard's age-old design.

Custom fins with 3D printing

Experienced surfers know that a number of factors can affect their performance, including the fins on their surfboards. The shape and flexibility of these fins play a big role in a board's manoeuvrability and stability. Naturally, the ability to customise these fins would give surfers the ability to really take charge of their experience on the water.

That is what researchers at the University of Wollongong are trying to provide with their 3D printed fins, a project in the university's Global Challenges program. According to Professor Marc in het Panhuis, the fins he and his team are developing can be tailored to individual surfer's without a ridiculous cost. Thanks to 3D modelling software, prototype fins can be planned and tested before a final design is printed out.

Professor Geoff Spinks - lead innovator in the Global Challenges program - noted that these fins could help Australian surfboard manufacturers provide a higher-quality product than what's available from international competitors.

Putting a puzzle together

Meanwhile, across the Tasman in New Zealand, another enterprising surfer has found a way to use 3D printing to solve the issue of portability. An industrial design student at Victoria University in Wellington, Max Robotham developed surfboard made up of 48 3D printed pieces that fit together like a puzzle.

Like many inventors in history, Max Robotham was motivated by necessity - particularly the need to get himself and a surfboard to the beach without a car.

"I'm a poor student in Wellington with no car - and you don't see many surfers in a wet suit taking their boards on the bus," Robotham told

After considering several portable designs, Robotham settled on one that could be put together at the beach. Using Solidworks and the university's printers, he was able to develop a fully working model.

These and other innovations are really making a splash in the design community. Contact Redstack for more information and pricing on a 3D printing solution to meet your needs. 


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