SAN DIEGO—A Canadian product developer expects to introduce by December a compression molded skateboard that touts a carbon-fiber base and uses Kevlar and other structural materials.
Paul Hallett of St. Thomas, Ontario, intends to guarantee each board against breakage for one year. Such a claim is ``unheard of in the skateboard industry,'' he said in an interview at Bulletproof Boards Inc.'s booth at the Action Sports Retailer trade exposition, held Sept. 10-12 in San Diego.
Bulletproof owner Hallett developed the concept to answer his 13-year-old son's complaints about frequent breakage of traditional wood skateboards. So far, Hallett has invested ``many hundreds of thousands of dollars'' in the project, targeting the high-end market. He suggests a retail price of US$159.95 for each deck. Wood decks cost about $89.
Diamond Aircraft Industries Inc. of London, Ontario, has turned Hallett's idea into a product through prototype and pre-production stages, but so far has not committed itself to manufacturing the board, according to John Winston, director of business development and corporate affairs.
DuPont's Nomex honeycomb forms the core and epoxy is used as the base resin, according to Sorin Nissan, Diamond's director of technology.
The University of Western Ontario's mechanical engineering department, also in London, conducted validation tests. The board can withstand 8,000 pounds of pressure.
The product is the first from Bulletproof, which employs six and will handle worldwide distribution to retail outlets. In addition to new boards, the firm will offer retailers repair and maintenance kits and products, aftermarket graphics and used Bulletproof boards. Limited-edition prints are embedded on the bottom of most Bulletproof boards.
Separately, San Diego plastics distributor Ridout Plastics Co. Inc. expects to sell about 20,000 composite Flexdex skateboards this year, Elliott Rabin, Ridout president, said at the expo.
The volume includes custom Flexdex units for promotion of Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink on a major skateboard tour.
About 15,000 Flexdex units were sold in 1997, the product line's first full year. At the exhibit, each wheel of a delivery van was positioned on a Flexdex board to show its flexibility and strength.
Ridout has reformulated the fiberglass weights and weaves and changed the layering pattern to give the pultruded board better flexibility and make it easier to manufacture, Rabin said. Some ultraviolet inhibitors and fire retardants were removed from the initial resin formulas because the board didn't need those characteristics, he said.
Asian economic woes diminished the Australian appetite for Flexdex boards and led to mixed results for Japanese distributors. One is doing as well as last year after cutting prices, while another kept prices up despite a 50-percent sales decline, Rabin said.