Anyone who has seen Signal Snowboards' "Every Third Thursday" will have seen how glass and structural layers dramatically influence the way a snowboard rides. Today's TSA Tech Series is going to break down the science behind these materials and explore their influence in snowboard design.
To make a snowboard, several different layers are stacked together like a sandwich, placed in between metal sheets and placed into a press.
A typical snowboard construction would consist of:
Image source: Signal Snowboards
Glass fibre is formed when thin strands of silica-based glass are extruded into thinner fibres, the fibres are then stitched together into a fabric sheet.
When you mix this fabric sheeting with resin the result is a material which resists both compression and tensile (pulling it apart) forces. This combination makes fibre glass an ideal material for snowboard construction.
The glass fabric sheets can be stitched together in different patterns giving the fabric different attributes.
With fibres running at 90˚ to one another bi-ax glass gives little resistance to torsional forces (twisting). This makes it the perfect choice for boards that require a softer flex.
By laying up the fibres at an angle you can also create a bi-Ax board that gives a little bit more torsional resistance thereby stepping up the response through the width of the board. Another way make the board livelier and responsive is to change the density of the glass (this doesn’t affect resistant to torsional flex).
Benefits of Bi-Ax Glass
Gives a softer torsional flex for a smoother more forgiving ride, perfect for beginners.
Tri-ax glass is made from fibres that run at 90,˚ these are then intersected by fibres running at angles from left to right and right to left. By adjusting the angle of the fibres in the X plane you can vary the amount of torsional resistance. For a slightly softer flex the fibres intersect at 30˚ and for a stiffer flex at 45˚.
Benefits of Tri-Ax Glass
Has a higher resistance to torsional flex (twisting) so gives a more dynamic and responsive ride. In addition it is also stronger and more resistant to snapping.
Quad-Ax glass is similar to tri-ax but has an additional strand of horizontal glass at 90º.
The most commonly used Quad-ax glass is woven at 30˚, this gives it very similar performance properties to 45˚ tri-ax but creates greater strength.
Benefits of Quad-Ax Glass
It can be woven at 45˚ for a very aggressive and responsive ride suitable for boardercross.
Other Structural Layers
Carbon Fibre is constructed from super thin fibres composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals along the axis of the fibre - it is alignment that makes the fibre very strong for its size. Several thousand carbon fibres' are twisted together to form a yarn, which may be used by itself or woven into a fabric.
The density and strength of carbon gives it unrivalled levels of rebound, it is this that makes it such a valuable material for snowboard construction. Carbon fibre can be used as a complete structural layer (this can be prohibitively expensive for mass market production) or more commonly in specific areas of the board to increase the boards performance.
This volcanic rock develops its unique properties cooling quickly as it is exposed to the sea, or cold temperatures around the earth’s crust. It is mined, crushed and turned into fibres with few chemicals needed for processing. The fibres have a higher tensile strength than glass resulting in more pop without the unforgiving feel of carbon. Because of this the laminate layer can be made thinner for a lighter board.
Image source: thisisbossi
Kevlar was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires and is now used in a wide range of products. In snowboards the material is mainly used to absorb vibrations reducing chatter at high speeds.
Carbon or Basalt Stringers
X BRACE: Increases torsional resistance through the centre of the board.
TIP & TAIL X BRACE: Increases torsional resistance at the tip and tail of the board without effecting the torsional flex through the centre of the board.
CENTRE BEAM: Increases snap and pop though the length of the board without effecting the torsional flex.
EDGE BEAMS: Gives the board more snap when on the edge for increased turning response and power.
MULTIPLE BRACING: Does all of the above.
Every snowboard is going perform and ride slightly different - testing as many demos as you can is going to help you decide what like and what your going to enjoy riding on the hill. For more snowboard construction info have a look at the rest of thetech series blogs.