Manufacturers of snowboards and skis, like all businesses, maintain a competitive edge through ongoing innovations in design, materials selection, and production processes. At Canada’s Prior Snowboard Manufactory Ltd., Whistler, British Columbia, the challenge of handcrafting premium snow-riding products is compounded by its broad product line, including stock and custom-built snowboards, skis, and splitboards. The shape, length, side-cut, flex, weight, camber, and laminate material compositionare unique to each board and ski, demanding the use of versatile laminating materials and assembly processes that perform for every design..
In support of these efforts, Prior recently began using Huntsman’s Araldite® LY 3585/ Aradur® 3475 epoxy resin system to laminate its boards and skis. The epoxy system was originally tailored for the mass production of structural composite automotive parts, including the chassis for the BMW i-series of cars. The distributor of the new epoxy in Canada – Composites One, Arlington Heights, IL – introduced the Huntsman system to Prior. Sales representative Bob Andrews notes, “We recognized the tough, warm-curing epoxy’s potential to streamline production of Prior’s composite boards and skis.”
Andrews continues, “The new product has a 25 to 35 minute work life to provide the time needed to completely wet out fiberglass and/or carbon plies and to assemble the wood, top sheet, and base layers that comprise each board and ski. In addition, it cures after about two minutes at 130˚C, to significantly decrease in-press processing time compared with conventional epoxy materials.” The epoxy requires no postcure.
Kevin Niland, manager of finance and operations at Prior, confirms the benefits of the laminating adhesive. He notes, “The fast cure cycle increases our throughput and overall productivity. The epoxy resin system also has an easy-to-work-with viscosity (900-1,100 cPs) that provides for complete cloth wet-out, even on carbon fiber that had presented some challenges with previously used products. In addition, the Huntsman epoxy system’s performance is extremely consistent, during handling and curing.”
Niland adds, “The new Huntsman epoxy produces boards and skis with ultra-smooth, blemishfree surfaces and edges that are easy to finish without chipping.” Because the top sheets that Prior incorporates on many of its designs are transparent, any voids or imperfections in the laminate would be readily noticeable, creating an unacceptable product.
The most important criteria for Prior products is rigorous performance on the slopes. Araldite® LY 3585/Aradur® 3475 epoxy resin system produces boards and skis that provide a good ride on all terrains and snow types. The Prior line is also durable, to withstand exposure to cold/warm temperature extremes, vibration, and impact; the epoxy has an interlaminar shear strength of nearly 9,000 psi.
Prior was founded in 1990 by Chris Prior, a former windsurfer who competed in events throughout the world. Prior focused on building boards to meet the unique requirements of the boutique custom high-end market. The product line quickly became popular with the industry’s top riders on the North American and International circuits. Prior added skis and splitboards to its offering, winning numerous industry awards for material innovation and design. As the company continually seeks to upgrade its products, new materials like Huntsman’s Araldite® LY 3585 /Aradur® 3475 epoxy system are incorporated, with the goal of improving customer satisfaction with Prior boards, skis, and splitboards.