Composites Today

Magazine For Composites Professionals

New sabre water ski to bring high performance biomaterials to water sports industry

HO Sports (USA), a leading water sports designer and manufacturer, has announced the launch of their new Sabre Water Ski in partnership with Checkerspot, a biotechnology company headquartered in California USA. The new product features a biobased foam core designed specifically for water skis, developed through Checkerspot’s WING® Platform, which custom formulates algae-derived biomaterials to meet desired performance properties with less reliance on fossil fuels. This collaboration showcases Checkerspot’s cutting-edge advancements in biotechnology and materials science, enabling the production of high-performing, more sustainable water skis.

The Sabre is designed for intermediate to advanced skiers who want a versatile, stable, and smooth ride. Its new biobased foam core was tailored to reduce overall weight while simultaneously delivering higher compressive strength. This lightweight and durable construction, combined with easy turning and a forgiving sweet spot, make it an excellent choice for skiers who want to progress their skills and accelerate their learning curve.

HO Sports, renowned for their expertise in water sports equipment, has embraced the opportunity to integrate more sustainable materials into their product lineup. By partnering with Checkerspot, HO Sports aims to set a new industry standard by offering products that not only excel in performance but are made from renewable materials.

“At HO Sports, we were already using bio resins in our skis. Sourcing a biobased core material was the next logical step,” said Dave Wingerter, Vice President of Product Management and Global Brand Director at HO Sports. “Seeing what Checkerspot was doing with their foam and how it worked for snow skis in their brand, WNDR® Alpine, it seemed like a great fit. Replacing plastic foam cores derived from petroleum with foam cores derived from algae oil is an elegant solution to a big problem we have in the world. Making foam out of algae instead of petroleum is just a better way.”

Checkerspot’s biobased foam core has approximately 42% bio-carbon content, and uses a unique oil derived from microalgae. Manufacturers in the water sports industry commonly rely on materials made from petroleum, which is a finite resource. Checkerspot’s WING® Platform enables the custom formulation of algae-derived materials with high bio content, offering brands the opportunity to design products to meet specific performance metrics while employing more sustainable inputs, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable water sports industry.

“It takes courage and conviction to move away from the status quo. We are excited and honored that industry leader HO Sports has joined the community of innovators who are empowered by the WING® Platform and committed to transitioning towards a post-petroleum future. The Sabre water ski shows that performance versus sustainability is a false choice. We encourage other product developers and forward-thinkers to seek out high performing renewable materials to position themselves at the forefront of innovation in their respective industries.” – Matthew Engler, Head of Materials Business Development at Checkerspot.

Epoxy prepreg system

SHD Group (UK, Europe, and US) announced that it has introduced VTB301, an exceptionally versatile epoxy prepreg system with up to 25% bio-content. Curing can be achieved as low as 65°C while still having a room temperature shelf life of at least 90 days. The system can be processed Out-Of-Autoclave (OOA), through an Autoclave or snap cured at 140°C via a press, delivering unrivalled flexibility for component manufacture.

Development work has showed VTB301 to be extremely capable in multiple forms of processing, across a range of fabric reinforcements and unidirectional formats. Thick section carbon fibre laminates can be produced with low temperature oven cures, delivering low levels of voiding. Equally, snap cures can be achieved in under 10 minutes through compression moulding in heated matched metal tools.

In validating the extended-out life of VTB301, SHD manufactured panels, via both vacuum only and autoclave cure, from packs of aged material aged up to 90 days before being mechanically tested. Results showed no degradation in values, demonstrating that VTB301 can be stored for extended periods at room temperature (20°C) without losing performance. When considering OOA processing, however, the extent of the workable life will be dependent on material storage conditions and specific laminate requirements.

With increased bio content, extended out life and versatile cure capabilities, VTB301 once again underlines SHD’s commitment to support its customers’ progress towards challenging Net-Zero targets. The energy burden associated with the processing and storing of advanced prepreg solutions can be reduced through implementation of this highly novel resin technology.

VTB301 joins other systems in the 300-series which have been developed specifically to enable reduced environmental impact materials whilst still delivering the high performance advanced composite solutions. Initially, VTB301 will be available from SHD’s UK manufacturing site, with product rollout from its European and North American manufacturing facilities in early 2024.

Bio-epoxy tooling system

The group also announced the launch of LTB300, a new tooling system that is 30% bio-based, offers an excellent surface finish, cures rapidly at low temperatures, and can be delivered on short lead times.

LTB300 is a novel prepreg tooling system for manufacturers who are looking for a material that is both more environmentally friendly and of equally high-performance to the incumbent systems. The resin system is tailored to 200gsm carbon fabric for the surface plies and 650gsm or 1000gsm fabrics for bulking plies to provide a conventional 1-8-1 or a more rapid 1-5-1 configuration. Tack and drape have been optimised to provide operators with a system to laminate high quality tools in record time.

Initial cure temperatures of 45°C provide a tool in just 12 hours with an ultimate Tg of over 200°C achievable after post cure. Initial cure can comfortably be achieved with a rapid 8 hours at 55°C or 6 hours at 60°C.

“We are excited to launch LTB300 – designed with sustainability at its heart.” said Nicholas Smith, Technical Director at SHD Composite Materials. “With bio-sourced ingredients and a faster cure for reduced energy consumption it brings both efficiency and ecological consciousness to composite tooling applications. In addition, the optimised formulation gives excellent surface finish and tool durability and when combined with SHD’s legendary service, makes LTB300 the ideal solution for applications where time and quality are of the essence.”