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Industry dynamics

Application of glass fiber and carbon fiber in slide plate

Word:[Big][Middle][Small] QR Code 2018/4/18     Viewed:    

With the opening of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Korea, sportsmen from all over the world will break themselves and challenge the limits in many ice and snow projects. For an athletics project, athletes' physical fitness and acquired training are certainly important. Selecting suitable sports equipment is also one of the important factors leading to success. Take snowboards as an example, their preparation materials have undergone several changes. Until the second half of the last century, glass fiber composites were first used to produce skis. Since then, it has become the darling of sports equipment manufacturers.

Dodd Grande, K2 Sports's vice president of engineering and R&D, said that the application and development of composite materials in skiing sports originated from the different sports needs of skiers. Alpine Ski enthusiasts are mainly driven by gravity, while lovers of Backcountry Ski rely on themselves as a driving force. The difference between the two determines that they have different requirements for snowboard materials.

Grande said that there are many kinds of skis suitable for alpine skiing, but the combination of aluminum and composite materials is the mainstream, and epoxy adhesives are mostly used as adhesive materials, because this is the best practice tested. .

A lot of alpine skis are produced using wood or polyurethane cores, steel on the edges, and UHMW polyethylene. After sintering, it is formed by continuous molding process (CCM) or manual cutting and grinding.

DPS Skis, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA is currently the leading snowboard producer in the industry. The company uses a pure carbon fiber prepreg manufacturing process. DPS Skis official website claimed that although many other companies in the industry have also indicated that they use this technology, glass fibers have been mixed in the actual production process.

DPS marketing manager Alex Hunt said that the use of carbon fiber not only has the effect of weight reduction, but also helps manufacturers to control the skis' torsional stiffness more precisely and give the athletes better control and experience. Compared to glass fiber composite snowboards, carbon fiber is even more resistant to fatigue. In addition, the use of "prepreg" standard semi-finished products can minimize the error in the artificial ratio and ensure the consistency of the performance of the snowboard at various locations.

Of course, the above comparison does not indicate that the glass fiber composite snowboard is useless. "In fact, apart from being a bit heavier, it also has the advantages of many carbon fiber composite skis," said Pete Wagner, founder of Wagner Custom Ski.

"Actually, for a snowboard, the greater the quality, the easier it is to force and the more coherent and smooth it is when gliding." Wagner explained. "At the same time, the larger skis are also more likely to cross some undulating and complex conditions. Snow surface also means better earthquake resistance and better experience."

When designing a ski, Wagner Custom Skis prepared approximately 100 alternative materials. All Wagner skis use ultra-high modulus polyethylene as the base and wood as the core, and are reinforced with glass fiber composites, carbon fiber composites, or a mixture of the two. Wagner uses a wet lamination process where the resin is heated, cured, and molded in a pneumatic press.

"We use a combination of automated mass production under computer control and traditional hand polishing. This is a perfect combination of modern and traditional processes."

Although Wagner Custom Skis is known for producing carbon fiber composite snowboards, it is also an important promoter of glass fiber composites. "Fiberglass is an excellent material for skis production, light weight, high strength, high torsional stiffness, excellent shock absorption."

According to Wagner, carbon fiber composite snowboards can significantly reduce athletes’ energy consumption when climbing uphill sections and even when climbing vertically. Grande believes that in the past 3-5 years, carbon fiber composites have become popular in the ski world. This is because people's interest is no longer confined to conventional ski resorts, and more and more enthusiasts have turned their attention to the deserted wilderness.

"How can we control the weight of the snowboard? People naturally think of carbon fiber," Grande explained. At the same time, mountaineering skiing began to enter people's sights as a new sporting method (hiking on high mountains and then sliding down the mountain).

Skis produced by New Zealand's C6 Skis are designed for extreme wilderness and mountaineering. C6 uses an autoclave-cured carbon fiber prepreg process (ACCP). Under normal circumstances, the production of carbon fiber composite skis is a wet laminating process. The carbon cloth is immersed in the resin and heat-cured after pressing. However, in the eyes of C6 founder Craig Stirling, this method will produce extra weight.

C6 uses a carbon fiber unidirectional prepreg supplied by Gurit and lays it in a square mold. Among them, in the upper part of the sandwich structure, a layer of carbon fiber twill is included. C6 cuts the upper and lower halves to match the appearance of the skis. Then, the upper part was loaded into the male mold, the lower part was placed on a 1.4 mm polyethylene base, and then placed in a female mold, and then placed in a vacuum bag and fed into an autoclave at 80 degrees Celsius and 7 atmosphere conditions. Under the curing. Last release molding.

Although there are many ski professionals who are carbon fiber prepreg platforms, it must be realized that over-pursuing the "elasticity" of the skis may cause the journey to become "bumpy" and reduce the sporting experience. At the same time, Alex Hunt also admitted that as a material, carbon fiber is difficult to process and the shape of the snowboard made with it is also difficult to control. Because of the cooling state, the bond between the carbon fiber and the resin is not so tight. The above-mentioned defects will eventually affect the production progress of the skis.

In summary, before finding an effective method for the preparation of low-cost carbon fibers, carbon fiber composite materials are difficult to perform in the sports industry. This is quite similar to the situation it faces in other applications. An analysis by Lucintel, a market consulting firm, shows that carbon fiber is a little slower to promote in the sports industry than other industries. However, Grande said that with the popularity of mountaineering and skiing as a new form of sport and people’s tendency to pursue larger skis, carbon fiber may usher in a more rapid development in the sports industry.

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