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According to the National Ski Areas Association there are over 5.5 million snowboarders spending $133 million last year on snowboards in the U.S alone. Being able to produce over 500 boards a day in 30 different body shapes, modern manufacturers have perfected the art of creating high-quality snowboards but how are bespoke promotional snowboards formed by industry leading companies?
All promotional snowboards begin life as a hardwood core, traditionally Beech, Birch, Aspen or Bamboo. The reason that hardwoods are used is because they are strong, durable, easily manipulated and shock absorbent. There are other options for production, such as kevlar, fibreglass, honeycomb aluminium or foam. The former 3 materials are equally if not better than hardwood however are expensive materials and so would tend to be used for one-off board designs while the foam is inexpensive but of poorer quality than hardwood. Foam can sometimes be used in addition to hardwood in low-impact areas of the board to remove some of the weight.
The core can be made up of multiple wood types in ply strips that are layered and compressed together with adhesive to create the board. The wood is then cut into shape first using CNC machine to the precise dimensions specified of the CAD design. Holes for the fittings are drilled in at this stage as well before fibreglass sheets are wrapped over the core ready for the top and bottom layers. The layers of fibreglass are impregnated with epoxy resin to increase the stiffness and stop the board from deforming.
Top Sheet and Base
The top sheet is where the graphics are applied to the board and can be made of many materials but most often are Nylon, Fibreglass or Composites amongst others. If the graphics are to be printed onto paper sheets then they would slot underneath the clear material top sheet. This is a much more cost effective method of production, however can effect the bond between the top sheet and the fibreglass. Another method is applying the top sheet and silk sheeting the inks before applying a laquer to protect the custom promotional design.
The inks are applied layer by layer, colour by colour and requires several hours between each layers, however the custom printed design will be onto an intrinsically stronger product. By taking the time to apply the inks there is a greater range of colours available by application rather than computer printing and is generally hand applied using colour specific stencils.
The base materials are P-Tex, a form of polyethylene plastic. The molecular weight is indicated by the number placed after the P-Tex, (e.g 2000). They can be sintered or extruded, which is to ground into powder and shaped by slicing or to melt into shape, respectively.
The side rails are applied as strips of steel or stainless steel, which are applied as inserts. The board also has final runs through thin resin sprays that create the final protective coat for the board. The final layers are then sanded gently to create an even spread across the board, which must pass final tests or else the final coats are reapplied. At this stage, the custom promotional boards are finally complete and ready for shipment!
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