The manufacturing processes used to put handmade snowboards together are essentially the same as they were 20 years ago. Snowboard Review caught up with Clyde Snowboards owner and one man work force Jason Broz to learn the ropes of snowboard manufacture.
Ever wondered how snowboards are manufactured? We managed to collar the busiest man in snowboarding Clyde Snowboards owner Jason Broz to give us the lo-down. Not only does Jason take care of Clyde’s marketing and sales, Jason builds every Clyde snowboard by hand, there aren’t many people out there as qualified as Jason.
There are over 40 individual steps and 3 hours of labour that go into building every single snowboard in our Calgary, Canada production facility. Clyde snowboards are handcrafted which is a term that is thrown around a lot in the industry, but basically it means that we build boards with minimal automation and with a lot of love and attention. Essentially a snowboard is made of plastic, fibreglass, wood and some steel. At Clyde we use the sublimation graphic application process for both the tops of our boards as well as the bases, which means scratch resistance and colour brilliance, and that is where the board building process begins.
The artwork for the snowboard is printed on a wide format printer with special dyes and transferred with extremely high heat to plastic sheets that will make-up the top and bottom of the snowboard. Once dried, the materials are cut to shape and the steel edge of the snowboard is glued in place. Triaxial fibreglass is also cut to length and the wood core is profiled and drilled on a CNC machine for precision and accuracy. Small variations in the core’s profile will affect the flex characteristics of the snowboard so much attention is paid to the design and testing of different profiles. Other small parts such as the rubber dampening material and tip and tail fill are also cut to specification and the materials are now ready to be assembled for lay-up. A two part epoxy is mixed and the Ptex base material is placed in an aluminium form called a cassette. The cassette works to hold all of the materials in place during lay-up and pressing to ensure that nothing shifts out of place. Every size and shape of snowboard must have a corresponding cassette. Epoxy is placed on the PTex material and spread evenly followed by the rubber dampening strips and first layer of Triaxial fibreglass. Once soaked, the wood core is placed and aligned. A second layer of Triaxial fibreglass is then wet-out with epoxy and the topsheet is placed. The entire lay-up of materials is now complete and a top cassette is positioned using registration pins that lock everything in place.
The board is now placed in the press which is a male and female mold that closes with pneumatic (or hydraulic) pressure under heat for approximately 30 minutes. Once the curing cycle is complete the press is opened and the cassette is removed. The board is taken out of the cassette and placed on a cooling rack for 24 hours to allow for the epoxy to cure completely. A bandsaw is used to trim the flash (excess material) off the board and base grinders are used to remove epoxy from the base and to flatten the running surface. Once the snowboard has gone through the grinding process of 5 different grits of finishing belts, each progressively getting finer as the process continues, the edges are finished, the insert holes are drilled and the board is pretty much finished.
After a wax and polish on a special machine, the protective tape is removed from the topsheet and the board is inspected for quality and craftsmanship. Voila…it’s ready to ride.
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