Autodesk Names 42 Surfboards Inventor of the Month for June
By Lauren Browne, ConnectPress Editor
Surfing dates back thousands of years, and yet many things are still the same in the sport. Its simplicity is appreciated in that it only takes a few things to be able to surf: a board, some waves, and a gutsy surfer. But the surfboard design company 42 Surfboards is taking this simplistic sport and adding an element of complexity to their designs.
By using Autodesk Inventor, the company makes precise boards that are also environmentally friendly. Their designs are so innovative that out of the 700,000 users of Inventor, Autodesk has named 42 Surfboards the Inventor of the Month for June, 2008.
Based out of Oregon, 42 Surfboards’ owner and self-proclaimed “floor-sweeper-in-chief” Lars Bergström said “solid modeling lets us iron out all of the kinks in a design before we ever make a woodchip. It lets us analyze various designs from every angle and greatly decreases the time between concept and creation.”
Even better, Bergström focuses on making his carbon footprint as little as possible. The boards are made out of local, sustainably harvested wood and abalone, they compost the sawdust, and the board will last a lifetime with the right tender loving care.
42 Surfboards makes many different models of surfboards. An important aspect to making a good surfboard is to get the density to strength ratio correct. Most modern-day surfboards achieve that ratio, but are made out of foam or balsa wood, which are products that increase a carbon footprint. Foam is a petroleum-based product and balsa wood must be imported all the way from South America.
However, boards made out of solid wood don’t have the lightness and performance as boards made with foam or balsa wood. But that’s where Inventor makes it possible through solid modeling for Bergström to design a board with the lightness of a foam board and combine it with the sturdiness and longevity of a wooden board. With the program, Bergström can digitally create a surfboard as thin or as thick as he wants, while being able to test the strength of the board. In this way, Bergström reduces the amount of unnecessary wood to create a light, yet durable wooden surfboard.
Bergström’s college background helped him develop his surfboard design. “I am an environmental scientist. I have a Ph.D. in Environmental Science and have taught at several Universities around the world.” He started the company in 2005, and has been shaping surfboards for family and friends since he was a child. “The combination of these two backgrounds led to the inception of 42 Surfboards,” said Bergström.
42 Surfboards has been using Inventor for over a year. Bergström was using another type of software when a friend told him about Inventor. “It did not take long before we made the switch.” They also use Board Cad, a Scandinavian-based free software.
42 Surfboards uses sustainably harvested wood as much as possible. They have it milled, then glue and chamber their own blanks.
It takes Bergström about 30 hours in a week-long time span to take a design from the concept to the manufacture of the surfboard, and Inventor makes this process smoother. “A surfboard is not your typical mechanical shape. Instead, it is a thoroughly organic shape. Still, if it is to be manufactured, the idea needs to be transferred to a digital file. Inventor makes this easy,” said Bergström.
Unfortunately not all of 42 Surfboards’ secrets are revealed. When asked what design techniques are used in the process, Bergström said, “That, I am afraid, is all top secret and happens behind a door marked with a skull and crossbones.” Regardless of not knowing all Bergström’s secrets, one thing is certain: thanks to Inventor’s digital prototyping capabilities, 42 Surfboards is able to make the dream of creating an environmentally friendly surfboard into a reality.
Every month, Autodesk awards a new Inventor of the Month to a user who exhibits extremely innovative uses of the software. Stay tuned for next month’s feature on the July Inventor of the Month.