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Pioneering Technology – 3D Printed Longboard Moulds

Our latest innovation in the workshop has proven to be a reliable and accurate way to make longboard moulds. By 3D printing the more tricky to shape geometery, we’ve improved our boardmaking efficiency and quality. This allows us to cater to our customers by giving us the opportunity to send samples of concave to get feedback and make necessary changes in a relatively inexpensive way. No major (or possibly otherwise) board company currently offers this service with their decks.

 

While our process has continued to evolve behind the scenes, using more sophisticated machines, software and materials/finishing; This process shows promise with the DIY community, making processes like vacuum bags more accessible, with tons of possibilities we’ve already begun to discover!

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Voxelboards 2019 Changelog – Version 3.0.1

• Added a new larger build Volume 3D Printer to our factory’s inventory of tools. This allows for us to print multiple full-sized mould sections on the print platform. This is also a better made printer, allowing for higher quality products across the board.

 

• New CAM and Slicing software allows us to break free from all previous design limitations. This includes improved quality control, more sophisticated designs and products and more frequent innovations.

• NEW 14″ Bandsaw! In addition to the 1-3/4 HP that allows us to manufacture our own veneers – we have custom bi-metal blades that are similar to ones used at Skate One.

• Custom Decks are coming BACK! As our manufacturing process matures, we will be accepting custom orders all the way down to the concave! Our 3D printing allows us to take full advantage of rapid prototyping. Specify your concave dimensions, and we will send you a sample of your concave to help us get things just right. We’ll be implementing a website feature for this, but please bear with me through any beta or testing process!

 

• CNC Machine. ‘Nuff said.

• Removed French Toast and Strawberry Stickers from rotation until y’all appreciate them more. >:(

• 20 Ton Steel Press with a double wide capacity.

 

• Fresh shipment of veneers. We’re pretty much ready to rock, working towards redesigning and converting moulds. Once this process is complete, our new decks will be available!

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2019 – Breaking Ground PT 1

2018 saw some of the most unprecedented progress with the growth of our business and our technological sophistication. I made predictions about when we would be able to build a laser cutter that saw an expected date far later in the 2019 then I find myself today – in possession of our first CNC Machine! With our CNC, two 3D printers and triple the shop space – 2019 will see the fruits of our labor blossom into a factory born from ambitious necessity. To have control over the products that we design and wish to bring to the world, is to ensure broad and direct influence on our products and the community. Our work has been meticulously coordinated between myself and my collaborators, from the artists making the best graphics that we’ve ever had, to the skilled and courageous skaters, friends and early adopters that took a chance on our vision. I am excited to bring my newest designs and hopeful classics to the world much faster and with greater quality than ever before. My values continue to put my local skate scenes, economy, and human talent first.
In Part I of this very much overdue blog post, I will be highlighting what the end of our 2018 looked like as well as what to look out for in 2019, along with some of our latest products, updates and design plans. As always, there will be comprehensive posts for our bigger projects, events, and updates. I hope to stay on track with my blogs and post at least once a month!

Our 3D Printed Footstops & Why They Matter – PT. II

 

The results speak for themselves! There are dozens of footstops out in the wild! A multitude of colors and materials have given our customers and fans plenty of options to look forward to in the future, while also providing us with plenty of internal experience and has allowed us to make strides with our technology- from our wheel project, to our construction itself! With all of the feedback from community support, participation in giveaways, and plenty of early adopters, we’ve carved out our niche and continue to perfect our design and manufacturing processes!

 

 

After collecting feedback from the enthusiastic scene in DTLA, we were able to address possible improvements to the design. It was decided that rather than remove our successful original shape from the shop, it would be better to further diversify our design features into another product! With a more DH friendly shape, the Isosceles takes our familiar features and switches geometry! With the incorporation of a screw slot and both concaved/convexed footledges, we take your comfort further with more options and angles!

 

 

New Graphics & Our Appetite For Art

 

We have seen a renaissance with our graphics capabilities as our construction has evolved and manufacturing process has matured. We’ve got tons of new art, all professionally mastered, and digitally accessible – making printing in house a breeze. Taking inspiration from our stomachs, our local restaurants have embraced our expressions of hunger through art!

We’re very proud to share a little piece of our home with the world and to give appreciation to our favorite foods and local restaurants through our quirky, munchie inducing stickers and graphics. Our new manufacturing process laminates and protects the printed graphic underneath two layers of fiberglass and a locally sourced and poured water-based epoxy. This UV resistant epoxy is glossy, beautifully clear, packs tons of durability! This is just the beginning of much more beautiful art and unique ideas on the way in the future!

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Our 3D Printed Footstops & Why They Matter.

Footstops are a relatively simple piece of skate gear. Mainly made from aluminum or plastic, they vary in shape and size, and can be as simple as a bushing and a washer. At their best, they can transform the feel of your board, making it easier to kick out and passively increasing tactile feedback. At their worst, they can be heavy, pointy, or large – potentially increase the risk of damage to the footstop. Yet as long as the skater is kept in mind, their simplicity lends them to be easy to design and manufacture, and using them is as easy and slapping one onto a suitable setup.

However, in a simple product, there is still a lot that you can learn and demonstrate. Curiosity and skepticism are some of the most hard felt emotions that we experience, and experience itself ties heavily into those feelings. Often while (broadly) talking about our 3D printing technology, we’re met with reasonable questions about the process. “Aren’t 3D printed objects weak?”, “Isn’t ABS brittle?”, and “Isn’t 3D printing expensive?” are some common variations of questions that I receive. In person, these questions are very easily resolved. I’ll show them a sample or knicknack that I keep with me, or show them videos of an object being printed. I’m always beaming when someone visits my workshop, ending up hypnotized by the repetitive whir of motors and gears. “How does it work?” or “How long does it take?” are often answered by me dashing over to the printer, flicking the power switch and loading up a print. It seems, most average people have still yet to hold a 3D print.

Often, I explain to my visitors that there are many different 3D printing materials that one can choose from. Hundreds of filament options, with varying optimal settings and machine requirements. As an engineer, it’s within my purview to select the proper material that has the properties any given project demands. For board construction, I made Higgs Tech, and VC-Hybrid. For 3D printing, we use a blue biodegradable PLA as our standard, but with so many exotic filaments from fiber reinforced Nylon, to HTPLA there’s a lot of potential applications.

Enter our Footstop. While simple in design and function, there is a lot of potential hiding in plain sight. Using the product as a platform to test out and demonstrate 3D printing materials with the public, is the our ideal. Further, we’re able to create footstops from non-3D printed materials, opening the door for future recycling and material demonstration. Imagine rather than having a simple variety in color, being able to help us test out and provide feedback for exotic materials such as carbon fiber reinforced filaments, or cosmetic filaments. Further, our 3D printed footstops directly help us maintain our 3D printer, and bolster our R&D budget – all while helping us learn with relatively low risk. For the cost of a regular footstop, not only do we include a mini-footstop, but we also have free shipping in the United States! The next time you’re wandering on our site or are considering supporting us by purchasing one of our products, keep in mind that some questions are best answered by experience.

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Design Updates and Milestones! – The September Project PT. 2

Our Progress So Far

Spring has sprung, and we at Voxelboards have been EXTREMELY busy lately! We’ve been working on design updates, orders, and of course The September Project. I’ve been getting a lot of messages from curious skaters wondering about how far along we are, what we’ve learned, and when you might see a completed set directly from my visions. While initially I wanted to wait until we were further along, recent events have made me slow down on wheel development just a bit to ensure a smooth process. Below, is a checklist of milestones, and while a bit generalized, I’ll be taking some time to elaborate.

Wheel Core Prototypes
Concept Prototype (3D Printed Core)
Finalized Core Design(s)
Functional Set (Poured Urethane + “True” Cores)
Public Prototype (Bulk Discounts)
Final Product

 

 


Wheel Core Prototypes


Our first Milestone came with our first successful 3D printed wheel core. This took a bit to achieve – The lightly used 3D printer was a lucky purchase, and thanks to the technology being more accessible, I was able to use as little as a $50 amazon gift card to replace/upgrade a couple parts immediately after purchase to get it up and running. However, the 3D printer isn’t a silver bullet to our goal. While we could not have gotten so far so quickly without it, it only serves as a stepping stone into our project. Although the 3D printer allows me to take our core design directly from CAD to reality with precision and reliability even prototypes require lots of consideration for materials and print settings. That being said, there have been quite a few changes to our original design, and an increased understanding of the limitations and potential viability of 3D printed wheel cores. At this point, one might ask….do 3D printed wheel cores work? Perhaps, with the right material (such as a carbon fiber nylon), an accurate printer, and a good design. Would it be worth it to manufacture wheel cores on the 3D printer? I would argue that there are much faster, and consistent ways to make a skateboard wheel. 3D printing doesn’t really scale in a manufacturing sense. Printing more cores on your print bed doesn’t decrease the time it takes to make them, it just makes a bunch of them all at once. Is there some sort of inherit benefit to make wheel cores on a 3D printer, such as material or additional features that would not exist otherwise? There’s a lot of questions to answer here, and we might not be the ones to answer them all. If you don’t have the traditional equipment, this is honestly a very good way to test out your ideas, and get your “wheel rolling” so to speak.

Concept Prototype and Changes in Design

We started this project with a half spool of red ABS filament, and quickly switched to a stronger, less brittle PLA. Affordable and more biodegradable than other plastics, our numerous prototypes have a minimized impact on our environment, while providing a perfect research material. As I am sure you have guessed from our featured image, we have managed to pour out a single wheel to test our methods, and just to see if a 3D printed core would hold up. Pictured below, is our test wheel pour sitting next to a Blood Orange Alpine for a close refrence. This should be seen as a sort of proof of concept rather than a functional prototype since, well, there’s only one. But hey – bearings fit and it spins. We’ve also done some pretty primitive tests on it, trying to crack the core within. The 80A urethane layer around it definitely contributes to the strength of the whole wheel, because we couldn’t outright crush it, and it exhibits a pretty high impact strength. We can print with exotic filaments, so we’ll do some tests with 3D printed cores in the future. The prototype core within this wheel could not be removed, indicating the strength of our mechanical lock and a potential molecular bond within. The core used was the 12th iteration, which only had one 90° angle adjusted to be sloped on the center support ring. Additionally, the 12th core iteration also pictured below, had a slightly different inner slope, and a relatively thin edge.

Pictured below, is a side by side of our original prototype in red on the left, and our 14th iteration in blue on the right. Originally, our center support ring was designed with 90° angles. This is wrong for a few reasons, and even our 3D printer knew, sloping the underside of the support ring as it tried to lay material with nothing underneath to support it. We adjusted this, and the other support rings, also reinforcing the inward slope towards the bearing. While we got a lot of messages of support, we didn’t receive as much design feedback as we were hoping for. However, there were enough people who thought we would benefit from a beefier core, and we concurred!

Finally, we arrive at our current design iteration, #16. Our cores now feature a lip around the edges of the inner slopes, which should help to add even more strength and support to the lips of the wheel.


The Last Hurdles


First, I’m inspired to write a brief note about some conversations I had after I announced this project.

Things break. Humans miscalculate. Stuff can be expensive. None of these things should be a deterrent from your goals, and we will not let them be a deterrent to ours. We learn from our mistakes, we work hard to refine our designs, and we fix what we break, and make what we can’t afford. Our R&D budget for this is only as deep as our pockets, but that doesn’t mean our aspirations will never get off the ground, or will always be steered off path. Competition is an inevitable part of business, and while there are some who may see our attempts to manufacture in our home country as a naivety, they are missing the larger picture of a growing Voxelboards ecosystem. Criticism for our self imposed locality and dedication to handmade craftsmanship seems far too high in a world where automation is quickly becoming the norm. There are some things that humans will always do better. Passion, altruism, and a sense of community will always be on that list. We will never automate a job that is simply done better by a human.


Functional Set


When are you going to pour the first set?

We already have all the material we need to do this. It’s simply a matter of time and collective design satisfaction.

What are your current costs like?

We estimate it costs roughly $32 to create a single set of wheels. Which is actually pretty close to our goal considering this was no where near a bulk sized purchase, we paid taxes, and even paid for out of state shipping multiple times. In the future, urethane will  be sourced locally, in bulk, with potential discounts. Our costs will be further offset by a specialized but familiar bespoke manufacturing process that will decrease overhead.

What about the race wheel you have mentioned to some?

We intend on taking what we learned to develop a race wheel and core. I’m not sure when exactly this will happen, but we do have the materials to at least make a functioning set.

“True” Cores?

Cores that were not 3D printed. Cores that are made from our production materials.


Public Prototype


Is your intended price point still $25/set?

Yes, our intended price point is still $25/set. I’m not sure when we will get to this point, but this is very much still possible. There will be continuous updates about this as we progress.

Will we see these in shops?

We will definitely approach retailers once we are confident with our manufacturing and quality control processes.

When will public prototypes be available and for how long?

The goal is to have public prototypes in time for the summer! They’ll probably be available a couple months into the summer, but this is largely dependent on our progress, and community feedback. Once we feel they are complete products, or that we have learned enough about them or made all the last tweaks, then we will finalize them.

“Bulk Discounts”?

Our current goal for reducing price point is to purchase in bulk. This is largely where the community comes in, creating enough demand for the product.

What about your Open Source version?

An open source version of my core should be available before public prototypes become available!


Final Product


Will your final product look like what you have currently?

There will be some visual aspects changed when we finalize our product. I’ve dropped little hints within every product picture about what my ideas are and what I have planned, but I honestly think that the first functional set will be everyone’s first clear look.

What makes your product different?

Once complete we will offer a high performance, and affordable wheel manufactured and prototyped in-house, right here in California. By introducing an open sourced wheel core, we are able to keep the design healthy, allowing the core to improve with the skate community, whether or not a company is behind it. This also helps get people thinking about ways to improve wheels in general, by making the right information more accessible to everyone.

What do you need to keep things running smoothly?

You can follow our instagram pages and support us there. We post more frequent updates, and use the platform as one of our main community outreach tools! If you’re looking to make sure we don’t run into hangups in our production, consider purchasing one of our new 3D printed Footstops, as they are meant to help fund our r&d budget as well as prevent hangups in our normal production.

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“I got two versions. I got twooo versions…” – Choosing a deck with us.


2018, we begin our year with re-designed shapes, a couple new designs, a wheel project, and a new affordable deck construction. We’ve been making moves! However, I’d like to take this time to address some questions and speak on some of our ideas and concepts that we will be practicing and pursuing as the season begins.

I will be highlighting some of the design choices and material composition behind our construction. While this post may serve as a general comparison between Higgs Tech and VC- Hybrid Construction, you can find a comprehensive breakdown for each, on our blog.


Standard -VS- Premium

Construction


VC- Hybrid serves as our standard longboard construction while Higgs Tech serves as our premium construction. This largely has to do with material composition and manufacturing costs. VC- Hybrid is primarily comprised of hard-wearing, and familiar Canadian Maple, Higgs Tech, is primarily made from vertical grained, ultra consistent Bamboo veneer, which is lighter but more costly than maple veneer. While Higgs Tech is our lightest board construction, yet is significantly stiff, with a very light springiness on larger wheelbases. While only slightly lighter than our VC-Hybrid construction, this difference in weight is especially apparent in smaller sized decks. Our construction isn’t designed to bring you less bang for your buck – some people prefer a little extra weight on a small deck, or perhaps you need to lighten the load on your commuter. You can definitely prefer the feel of our standard, over our premium and vice versa.


Cross Section and Material Representation of VC-Hybrid Construction



While Higgs Tech is considered to be premium construction due to increased durability, decreased weight and the higher material cost, VC-Hybrid is our standard due to the availability, versatility and cost effectiveness of maple. Maple is one of the best and most demand-driven layup materials used in longboard and skateboard construction largely due to the strength, pop, hardness and other material properties that you can achieve with it’s inclusion. Bamboo cores have been long found to increase pop in maple decks, and with our use of it as “nature’s carbon fiber” you’ll come to see things with the same perspective. We use Bamboo as a core material in both our standard and premium construction, because of it’s unique strength and flexibility characteristics, but more so as a means of preventing the deck from warping, as the long, uni-directional fibers help distribute the shape of the concave evenly throughout the core – thus the deck.


Cross Section and Material Representation of Higgs Tech Construction



Shopping With Us


We love customs graphics and we support our artists and the work that they do! We love being able to do something different every time we approach a blank deck. While we will have at least one standard graphic for each deck, we offer the option to commission a custom graphic for an additional fee. We can either take a graphic you provide, or you can work with us to make something that’s just for you. We are also happy to provide blank decks upon special request for a reduced price. This option is available with both our standard and premium construction, so you can express yourself without breaking the bank.

If you’re looking to try us out or are looking to buy your first deck ever, we recommend choosing our affordable but excellent VC-Hybrid Construction to see if you like what we offer. If you’re looking to compete at a high level, or you’re looking for something to take to the next level, we suggest our Higgs Tech Construction, for a consistent and lightweight companion.

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The September Project – Reinventing The Wheel for $25/SET (Part One)

Skateboard wheels have seen quite a lot of evolution over the years. With examples of some of the earliest skateboard wheels ever sitting next to modern Powell prototypes down at my local shop, it was easy for me to be inspired to make my own one day. I wasn’t 100% sure of the process, and at first I was okay with shelving the project until a time where I could either invest a lot of money to have my own manufactured, or stock a wheel that was already tested and popular.

However, as time went on this gnawed at me, and using some left over thane from a urethane rail experiment, I poured a crude wheel shape. After some tinkering and a bit of research, I had concluded that I didn’t have the tools at the time, and after some failed attempts at cutting and shaping, I left my experiment to collect dust. Still, for some months the idea of a wheel project floated in my mind. Manufacturing my own set of wheels seemed extremely lucrative. Being in control of our manufacturing could really make things more affordable. With no middle man to pay, we can sell our product directly to our customers. With no middle man, there would be no questions about quality-control, and our prototyping time could be drastically reduced. The demand for wheels could help keep urethanes in-stock in  our shop, which could lead to it’s adaptation into other projects. As a fledgling manufacturer, the more skills under our tool set the better. Finally, with the cost reduction from VC-HYBRID Construction and a reduced price per set of wheels, we could do more things like sponsored events, giveaways, sub-$200 completes and contests. I had already made up my mind.


Beginning The September Project


Searches for getting custom wheels made, led me to the same manufacturers that produce many of the wheels that you can buy today, along with manufacturers in china selling the gelatin you often find on the bottom of cheap cruiser desks. Were these my only options? Picking out features from a catalog is not design, and outsourcing the product would mean going to the same manufacturers who make every other wheel on the market. Being un-content with selling another cloned wheel, on September of 2017, I put in the time and came up with an original preliminary 3D model.

Fast forward to January, I had found a generous mechanical engineer, who was looking to sell his 3D printer. It was taking up space, and they simply didn’t use it much anymore. After finding out what I was using it for, they were extremely happy that they had found someone that could put good use to the machine, rather than to let it go to waste. With a nice chat, and some helpful advice I became the proud owner of a 3D printer. When I had first received the 3D printer,  it was a bundle of wires. The threaded rods that drove the gantry up the Z-AXIS were bent, and relatively weak. After some upgrades, our printer is working fabulously! With my plans finally coming to fruition, I held up my first prototype wheel core. Free from the digital environment it was born from, I could begin to finalize my designs.

Currently on our fifth prototype, the core is designed to be side set, featuring a three ring design, Proto #5 explores how much grip and slip we want. With a wider support ring in the center for extra contact patch reinforcement. Prototypes take under half an hour to print, and we’re getting amazing accuracy.


What can we expect from

The September Project?


3D printing is one of the holy grails of rapid prototyping, being able to physically hold a design reveals extremely valuable information that you might not see otherwise. The wheel core, being such an integral part of the wheel’s overall design, was the first part of this large puzzle I had to solve. I plan on having multiple styles of wheel including a freeride/cityslashing wheel and a race wheel all with a unique and respective core. As our core designs reach completion, I’ll be sharing a lot more content and information about the September Project. Below, are some FAQ’s I want to address:

  • TL;DR What is the September Project?

    • The September Project is an ongoing research and development project to publicly prototype and develop an original longboard wheel product with a price point of around $25 a set.
  • Do you plan on using ABS as the core material?

    • No.
  • What sort of wheels can we expect?

    • A Freeride/Cityslashing wheel and a Race wheel are both planned.
  • What size wheels can we expect?

    • 65 mm and 73 mm respectively.
  • Is $25/set realistic?

    • Yes! We think that wheels can be expensive sometimes, and part of our goal with this project is to change that by attempting to set a new standard. We’ve run cost estimates, and have selected some materials to experiment with. If everything goes to plan, we’ll have a high performance, and affordable wheel manufactured and prototyped in-house, right here in California.
  • I’ve heard rumors of an open source design?

    • After the completion of The September Project, I will be releasing an open source version of our wheel core. While 3D printed wheels are still in the future, the lack of information on making wheel cores has been frustrating. I believe that making our wheel core open-source will help keep the design healthy, allowing the core to improve with the skate community, whether or not a company is behind it. While some companies patent their designs and keep everything secretive for fear of their idea being stolen, or even being prevented from exploring their idea, this is not something I am worried about. My alternative is going to a manufacturer and using the same features picked from a catalogue, or risk trusting a third party with my design anyways. What’s the difference? Rather, an open source approach allows anybody with some technical know-how and the right resources to have access to a tested wheel core design that they can use however they wish, for free. Rather than locking away my designs in some personal vault, I’m confident that allowing outside contributions and ideas to influence the core’s evolution is the best way to re-invent the wheel.
  • What about shops?

    • We’re looking to stock public prototypes and our final product in shops, once we’re satisfied with our project’s progression. Batch sizes will be announced regularly, and we’ll keep things local just to get things up on the road and down a hill. Additionally, we hope shops take this idea and run with it! Imagine going down to your local shop and picking up a set of wheels made by them, designed to work perfectly on the mountains closest to you. Imagine specialized designs for getting past the finish line by the skin of your teeth. We hope that the information we uncover with The September Project will inspire other makers and skaters. Alternatively, we hope to find a suitable manufacturing process that can support both shops, and skaters!
  • Sounds great! Kickstarter or something?

    • No Kickstarter! We’re planning on releasing some prototypes for sale to help cover some of the R&D, as well as to test the product more easily, and over a wider range of conditions. No reason to wait a month for backers, I invest into my own projects.

Keep an eye out for coming announcements, and a comprehensive post.

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INTRODUCING: VC-HYBRID CONSTRUCTION

VC-HYBRID Construction is our latest venture into longboard construction. Voxelboards started selling basic maple construction decks in 2015, and about halfway through the year we quickly ran into their limitations. As a result, we adopted Higgs Tech early on as a way to escape the drawbacks of traditional maple construction. While we solved most of our problems and went on to design and make great boards out of Higgs Tech, the materials were too expensive for us to bulk order easily, and as a result, our prices were too high for our relatively new name.


VC-HYBRID Construction


Starting with our veneers, we have a lightweight, and versatile bamboo core, supported by maple construction and 2 layers of fiberglass protecting the bottom graphic. Using the time tested combination of maple for sturdiness and pop, and a bamboo core for a consistent press and enhanced performance.


Lightweight Fiberglass


We sourced a lightweight and tight-knit fiberglass with a magical water based epoxy for durable protection and with a great strength to weight ratio. We continue to merge form and function, laminating our graphics under the fiberglass, while utilizing dyes, inks and additives instead of paint for artwork that does more.


Bamboo Core


Our boards start with a vacuum pressed bamboo core to eliminate air bubbles. Bamboo’s uniquely consistent grain structure allows it to press into shape more permanently, while lending it’s flexing properties, rigidity, and resistance to warps. However, Bamboo is a lot more expensive than maple and isn’t as easy to shape. Bamboo cores has been long proven to have improved pop and a lighter weight than traditional 7-ply maple construction.


Maple


We use Canadian Maple ( Acer Saccharum ) in our boards, it’s numerous growth rings at their tightest when grown in their native, harsh winters. Further, our boards leverage maple’s hardness and rigid properties to increase the stability of our pressing. Maple is well balanced, albeit relatively heavy, taking a nice finish while providing vertical and torsional reinforcement.


Starting at $99, we hope VC-HYBRID Construction gives more people an opportunity to try out our products, while in turn slashing prototyping costs, and showing that we listen to your feedback! We are committed to building and designing our own original products right here in Southern California. Keep your eyes peeled for more information, an update for the site, and a comprehensive post.


 

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How Being Earth Friendly Will Make Us Affordable (Part:1)

From the very beginning, I’ve saved the cut-offs and scraps from my board making projects. I told myself that I would develop a unique way to use every last bit of material that we source. This idea and concept was largely centered around the use of styrofoam and seemingly uncommon veneer scraps in our shop. Thought I would recycle and occasionally use the veneer for my own personal projects, It seemed like a huge waste of potential. I couldn’t bear to think about what was going to happen to the more durable materials we would soon incorporate. How exactly DOES styrofoam break down in the environment? What sort of byproducts are created when those tiny petroleum based pellets break down? Will my dream of seeing my boards ridden around the planet be tarnished if my discarded board moulds have only contributed to our ocean’s plastification? Yes.

Ralph Hockens

Throughout 2017, I have taken to realizing every aspect and corner of my vision. With that, the idea of a low, or zero waste company is enticing not only as a humble citizen of the planet, but as an entrepreneur with a philosophy based on ingenuity, and perfection contrived from the sum of seemingly unrelated parts. Further, Voxelboards was missing a lot in terms of selection, and affordability. Our early adoption of Higgs Tech was based on the desire to improve. However, while smart and ambitious, large strides in product development are best paired with an appropriate “ecosystem” to support it. To remedy this, my goals were simple:

  • Try not to poison the planet.
  • Upgrade my manufacturing process, so that the price of Higgs Tech products could be more in line with competing construction. I needed our boards to be made faster, and with higher quality.
  • I would also need to develop something more affordable, as an introduction or an “entry level product”. Our name was not quite large enough to justify the original price tag of $184.99, no matter how much it cost me to make it.
  • Show that innovation can come from unexpected places.

 

I first decided to tackle the task of reducing our waste and usage of styrofoam. I had already been recycling scraps, combining them with spray adhesives and incorporating them into our moulds. I took this several steps further, going to local surfboard shapers, and buying or trading massive pieces of high density styrofoam. While we would previously special order our mould making foam, we were actually able to eliminate the costs of sourcing the foam by nearly 1000%.

In addition to no shipping costs, and we get up to 10 moulds for a fraction of our original costs. I was able to not only gain some wisdom and understand about processes such as mould making, and fiberglass techniques from professional surfboard makers but I was able to slash costs, put money back into my local economy, and remove a large amount of styrofoam that would ordinarily be thrown away. Our moulds are covered with a layer of composite which helps prevent deformation, and damage. This extends the function of our moulds, keeping them from taking up space in a landfill for countless years. The high density foam is relatively light, keeping our process compact, accurate, and easy to move around in our small space. Damage is repaired with recycled cork granules.

Earlier this year, I went on to design new and affordable construction called “VC-HYBRID” which is set to retail around $100 for a Standard Graphic Deck, in order to provide an affordable introduction to our brand, while providing innovative new technologies and never skimping on quality. While this has yet to be released, it will closely follow in the footsteps of Higgs Tech, using waterbased epoxy, and utilizing our moulds made from recycled material. While Project D doesn’t use any scrap material in it’s design, it gains it’s bamboo core from Higgs Tech shipments. Originally designed as 8 ply construction, shipments of Higgs Tech come with an extra ply of bamboo included. However, as tests with Higgs Tech went on, we found that only certain boards really need to be made with 8 plys instead of 7 and that you could get comparable strength with a nice decrease in weight if you eliminated the extra ply on the boards that didn’t need the extra help. Project D has adopted the bamboo core and as a result helps us meet bulk minimums for our material and lowers prices even further. Convenient, and more functional!

With lowered material costs, improved manufacturing techniques, and dedication to a clean environment, we hope that we can show our fans, customers, and fellow businesses that going green is more than worth the effort.

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The Alchemy 808 – Gleaming like gold. Faster than light.

The Alchemy 808 is a directional top mount with a single kicktail and carefully placed W concave. Originally known as the Quark, we have been perfecting this board for two years, with over 12 prototypes, and tons of feedback.

The defining moment for this board, came with the ninth “Quark” prototype, also known as “The Q-9 Prototype.”

The Q-9’s shape was more refined that our previous designs. Coming in at 38″x10″, the Q-9’s tapered shape boasted a short and narrow nose, carved wheel wells, and a distinct  7-ply Maple construction with a cork and fiberglass bottom.

However, as tests began, we realized we were being held back by our construction. The board began to warp, and the W felt as if it deflated. After one race, the top of the board grew a lengthwise crack, splitting the center of the W concave open. The Q-9 Prototype was shelved.

However, we learned from our mistakes. Over the entire prototyping process for the Alchemy 808, we changed construction 4 times before the development of our signature Higgs Tech construction. We dialed back flex, increasing foot space on the nose. We kept the original Q-9 mould modifying it to reduce the intensity of the W concave, and making sure that the final press was stable enough to retain it’s shape without cracking. The result, was a culmination of craftsmanship, patience, and feedback. A big thank you goes out to our team riders, friends, fans and fellow skaters that helped point this design in the right direction!