Snow board

Kyle Anderton and Daniel Perks from the training program of the Royal Air Force Museum in England visited Edmonds Community College on an exchange program in summer 2009. Their goal was to learn processes in composites repair for application in aircraft conservation and repair. They studied in Edmonds' Applied Composites course—and this is their (edited) report:
We arrived at Edmonds Community College to take part in their composites training course. We were surprised initially that the course specialized in making snowboards. Our initial reaction to this was ‘how does this compare to aircraft composites?’ but while doing this course we also visited a Boeing plant and were very surprised to see the processes were almost identical.After the classroom part of the course, which enabled us to gain a basic knowledge of composite repairs and materials, we started the manufacturing process. The first stage consists of marking out the bottom board using an equation to make up the general shape of the board, which was unique to every person as height and foot size influenced the board’s length and shape. A metal flashing was then added to the edge of the boards and the wooden core was trimmed so that it sat just inside the metal flashing. This meant that the plastic sidewalls could be glued on. To finish this stage we then cut out some material that was the same color as the sidewalls so in our case it was lime green and taped it onto the nose of the board. We enjoyed this stage but found it very time consuming and had no relevance to aircraft.The next stage was to add the composites to our boards and complete the process. This got us very excited and we were eager to do this part as it relates to aircraft repairs that we could be doing in the future. So we obtained and cut out the required materials so not to waste time, as the resin goes through an exothermic reaction when left too long. We then added our layers, namely:
  • PTEX base material
  • Layer of resin then fiberglass sheet
  • Another layer of resin and the thin wooden core material
  • A layer of resin and the final fiberglass layer
  • The final layer of resin and PVC (being careful not to cause bubbles.
Once this was done the board was placed on the form and was wrapped in breather cloth. A vacuum bag was applied to totally enclose it and make an airtight seal. This was then connected to a vacuum and left for 24 hours. The last stage for the board was cutting and doing finishing touches. We used a router to make a nice angled edge on either side of the board and drilled 16 holes using a magnet as a locater. As a final touch up, we sanded the base to remove scratches and dents produced from the vacuuming process and polished the top face with alcohol to get a nice surface finish. Some of the stages are shown in the photos below. At the end of this process we had a feeling of achievement, having made our very own boards using new techniques we had learned. The composite part also had great relevance to the aircraft repairs that we had witnessed at the Boeing plant. We now have a much better understanding of composites and the work involved; we were especially surprised to see that a few flimsy layers could bond together to form a strong structure.