Oct 11, 2016 | By Alec

While we've seen 3D printing used to create parts for skateboards, as well as to help skateboarders film their cool tricks, San Diego-based 3D printing service SD3D has gone above and beyond by making a fully 3D printed skateboard, even down to its wheels.

This is not the first time that SD3D, which was founded back in 2013, has impressed us, however, as they've already worked on a number of crazy 3D printing projects, such as this record-breaking 3D printed city model that took over 3000 hours to complete.

No strangers to pushing boundaries, SD3D's 3D printed skateboard project came from a desire to test the full capacity of the materials they work with, specifically their Nylon materials. This first led to a 3D printed Penny-style board, but they have now upped the ante with this street skateboard that is almost 100 percent 3D printed. Of course, the process raised a number of challenges, as the SD3D team explains, “There were a lot of complications that came with this new territory, the most daunting being the bearings. We had thought of printing bearing separately, but we found those to be very breakable and hard to print small enough.”

Eventually, they tweaked the planetary gear design of Nick Winters, and chose to 3D print the wheels and bearings in Taulman3D’s Nylon 910. “While a flexible filament with lots of shells would be best for wheels, we found that this planetary gear combination needed a harder material,” they explain. Not only are the final wheels strong enough to support a person, but they also look fantastic. A second set of wheels were 3D printed in NinjaTek’s flexible Cheetah filament, which has a shore hardness of 95A – comparable to most commonly used skateboard wheels.

But the 3D printing challenge wasn’t over yet, as they also wanted to 3D print skateboard trucks (which attach the wheels to the deck). Unfortunately, this became increasingly impractical due to durability concerns, and eventually only the main body of the trucks (the baseplate and hanger) were 3D printed in Carbon Fiber Nylon. “This is the highest tensile strength of any material we currently work with at 9,267 psi. We figured this would be best for the trucks since we wanted strength and not much flex (elongation is 4.04%),” they said. A softer PCTPE was used for the 3D printed bushings, which proved to be perfectly capable of withstanding impact tricks. A regular, non-3D printed metal axle and kingpin were taken from an existing skateboard.

The main deck, obviously the most eye catching part of the skateboard, came with its own unique challenge: it was too big to fit on a build plate. The San Diego team therefore decided to cut their board design into four segments, which were attached with metal rods to keep everything together. “We decided to cut the board up in a way that would hopefully prevent bending in the middle. If we had cut the center pieces directly in half, there would be a part that was only being held together with the rods, allowing for bending,” they explain.

The deck itself was designed from scratch by SD3D's Kiana Duncan and also builds on their previous tests with a 3D printed Penny board. The fantastic hexagon hole design that covers the body is practical as well as cool, as it makes the deck a bit more bendable – crucial in preventing breakage. Kiana also included a concave shape in the board for a bit more comfort, and 3D printed the entire thing using roughly 1kg of carbon fiber nylon material. Finally, they also 3D printed some risers (that separate the trucks and deck) in Flexsolid, to absorb some more impact shock.

It’s indisputable that the final board looks fantastic, and it really underlines just what is possible when combining several industrial-grade materials. Of course, there’s only one way to see if 3D printing and skateboarding are really a good fit, and that means taking the board out for a spin. And who would be more qualified to test the 3D printed skateboard than the guys from Braille Skateboarding, a web platform for skateboard related media content?

Check out their experiences below, which are not entirely trouble-free. While the board certainly performed better than expected, it does look like 3D printing won’t be taking over the skateboard ramps anytime soon.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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