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Industry News
High-modulus PP fibers make waves in the surfboard industry

Innegrity LLC’s trademarked Innegra polypropylene fiber — a relative newcomer to reinforcement — reportedly is gaining acceptance among surfboard makers.

Posted on: 8/4/2009
Source: Composites Technology

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For a surfer, the only thing worse than a wipe out is lifting your head back out of the surf afterward to find your board broken. Most surfboards, historically, have been made of glass-reinforced polymers, primarily polyester, over shaped foam. Glass/polyester boards are strong and hold their all-important shapes, but can be brittle when riders can’t outrun big waves.

“Many advanced composite materials have been used to build custom surfboards,” says Greg Loehr, of Resin Research Epoxy Systems (Indian Harbour Beach, Fla.), a material supplier and distributor to the surfboard industry, “but most haven’t really made their way into the mainstream consumer market.”

Against that negative trend, Innegrity LLC’s (Greer, S.C.) trademarked Innegra polypropylene fiber — a relative newcomer to reinforcement — reportedly is gaining acceptance among surfboard makers. Melt-spun, with very low density and high modulus, the Innegra fiber is said to exhibit high toughness for impact resistance, but at a lower cost than aramid fiber. Says Loehr, “I think Innegra has the opportunity to break through this barrier of ‘tradition,’ the way epoxy has.” Woven Innegra fabrics over a shaped foam core reportedly make a surfboard tough enough to withstand hammer blows and, if need be, the weight of a pickup truck (see photo). “Innegra … has unique flex characteristics,” notes Loehr, “and best of all, it is lighter than glass … carbon or aramid.”

The fabrics are compatible with standard surfboard manufacturing methods and, board makers report, are most effectively used next to the foam core with a cover layer of glass over the graphics.

Innegra fabrics are currently available from a number of material suppliers as well as from distributors, including Graphite Master (Los Angeles, Calif.). Surfboards made with Innegra fiber are currently available from Oceansports World (Cocoa Beach, Fla.), Plus One Surfboards (San Diego, Calif.), and Abezat Surfboards (The Hague, The Netherlands), with more shops coming on line before the end of the year, says Innegrity. The material will be on display at the Surf Expo event, Aug. 20-22, in Orlando, Fla.

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