I used to love skateboarding. I mean, I still do, but pushing a board hard on parks and streets isn’t as easy as it once was, when, at my age — 31 — the scale needle is unfortunately pushing over 235 and rising. So, it’s not exactly easy on my wallet, which has more grown up responsibilities these days, nor on my slowly deteriorating ligaments and other body parts that are aging faster than the mental self-image I so very much cherish, forever stuck in the golden age of my early twenties. But skating comes in all different forms and the age-factor is of course just a poor excuse to stay on the couch moaning, when people like Rodney Mullen are still innovating and ripping the streets at closer to fifty – still looking to in a great shape (unlike myself).
But as Rodney has had a strong impact on the way the modern boards are shaped, designer Sam Abbott is also recreating the limits and the paradigm of creating a new skateboard. Instead of the traditional subtractive process using a maplewood structure with a plastic coating for the board, Sam went all out with the additive approach and created a 3D printed deck.
With this project, Sam took away the win in a recent design competition in the best portfolio category, hosted collaboratively by the 3D printing company 3D Print UK and the 3D model repository CG Trader, the latter known to actively host different challenges for aspiring 3D designers. After the win, 3D Print UK concretized Sam’s vision by 3D printing the design to life. The result of this is really a great looking deck, which has an outward structural pattern on its bottom, reminiscent of an asteroid or other space object’s crater-esque surface – which on closer observation is actually composed of odd looking creatures that may very well have originated from outer space. Or wherever great ideas and concepts initially do emerge in the universe.
Because of the obvious size limitations of current (mainstream industrial & consumer) 3D printer capabilities, the board had to be 3D printed in three separate parts, which make up the total size of 30.547 w x 6.809 d x 2.064 h in inches / 77.59 w x 17.294 d x 5.242 h in centimeters. The different sections are held together by interlocking pin pieces and some adhesive, so it might not be suitable for hitting any handrails or tre flips down a set of stairs, but for just cruising around it could definitely be the weapon of choice. Sam’s 3D printed skate would also stand out positively from the hordes of long boarders and be an ideal urban logistics solution even for the rougher terrain with the applied big soft-looking wheels.
If you got as excited as me about riding a 3D printed skateboard, these boards are now available in a more durable and sustainable form at Shapeways, offered in stainless steel. However, acquiring a unique board such as this does require digging out an amount of money unattainable for most, as instead of the approx $/€ 100 normally needed for a traditional complete (a maplewood board with all the necessities), the stainless steel 3D printed board goes for about $22,800/€17,000. But, luckily, there is more than one way to enjoy this board as well as skateboarding in general. As I can always go to my local skatepark to see kids do their popping magic, you can do that as well – and also watch the video of the 3D printed skateboard’s build process below.