Product Development

Problem - Students of the Wood Products Processing program at UBC are required to complete a thesis before they can graduate.  The thesis can either be a traditional written thesis or a project.  A few months earlier I had been intrigued by a website that details how to make your own skis.  Being an avid skier and getting tired of writing papers for school, I decided to make skis for my thesis.

As I began to plan out the design and production of the skis, it became evident that while I was able to manufacture the components, it would be difficult for me to design a press.  You can think of a ski as a sandwich of layers that are glued together with epoxy and pressed together until the sandwich sets.  I could make the sandwich layers.  But, how to make the sandwich press?

Solution - After doing lots of talking around with friends and random acquaintances, it turns out that a team of UBC Engineering students were making a ski press for one of their classes’ final projects.  They could design the press, but they didn’t have access to the right machines to make the ski parts (or sandwich layers).  Well, this was serendipitous!  We had a project meeting and quickly decided that I would be in charge of computer-aided machining on the CNC routers as well as the fabrication of other wood parts on various machines (planers, jointers, table saws, etc.)  The engineers would design the press in 3D CAD using Solidworks and fabrication of the metals parts of the press.  As for sourcing materials, I would take care of wooden materials and they would find the non-wooden materials.

The project was completed in 3 months from initial design sketches to pressing of the skis.  I mounted a pair of bindings on them and took them skiing on a warm spring day in Whistler.  The performance exceeded my expectations; stable at high speeds, able to carve, and very fast.

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