2015 – WHAT A YEAR! The sheer volume of inquiries, and subsequent transformation of these into CAD, CNC and more recently 3D printing has seen us busier than we have been since Americas Cup days in the early ‘noughties’. The most encouraging aspect is that the workload has – and remains – constant. We’re not experiencing the ‘boom’ or ‘bust’ cycles we’ve been through in past years. Things are on the up!
Similar to 2014, where we added a new 3-axis CNC machine to our stable (the Biesse Skill 1224 G FT), we’ve taken another step towards increasing our capacity and technological ability by introducing arguably the most capable 3D printer currently in NZ, a 3d Systems PROJECT 5500X, and its associated software ‘suite’ including Geomagic Print, Design X and sculpt. With the ability to print multiple materials including clear, opaque (in differing shades of grey) and a rubber like material, as part of the same ‘build’ project and to extremely tight tolerances, the PROJET 5500X is an extraordinary machine whose abilities, and outputs, are quite simply staggering. This machine does some COOL stuff!
If you’re interested in talking 3D printing and how you might be able to use it in your next project – get in touch!
Starting with an idea, the Offshore Tenders OC290 gains popularity. From the CAD came the first moulds and subsequent design evolutions that see the OC290 available in different sizes suited to different styles of cruising vessels. Shown to an enthusiastic response from the public at the Auckland Boat Show in September 2015, Russells' concept, in conjunction with KT’s work on the design has come a long way – the OC290 is now available in a range of sizes including the OC390 and a 2.75m ‘mini’ tender – all suited to different applications.
And of course theres the Styrotech CNC Facebook page. This is how we keep you informed of what we're up to, some of the projects we're working on and what some of our friends are up to - it's really taking over where the blogs left off - but there's still room for blogs! And then there's the archive - check it out...
Styrotech was born of windsurfing; that’s where we started – and where we learned the techniques relating to CAD, CNC and composite construction that have become the standard for so many industries. So whether it’s a solar powered car, the shade sail at the Browns Bay town centre, the OC290, an Americas Cup yacht or a windsurfer, surfboard or kite surf foil, they’re pretty much all related back to the work that was invested by Kevin and Russell into designing, developing and building Styrotech windsurf boards the 80’s & 90’s. So given this heritage the archives are a great way of recognising where it all started, drawing a link to the current technique and, of course, having a bit of a laugh!
So if this sort of thing interests you, check out our Facebook page – there are some interesting bits of history – and more than a few laughs.
With so much background in board design , it was inevitable that KT would start down the path of designing, building, testing and developing stand up paddleboards (SUP’s). As well as continuing to work closely with Adrian Roper on the design of a range of SUP’s, fins, paddles and foiling kitesurfers, KT continues to design and Styrotech CNC cut ‘custom’ SUP’ blanks not only for research & development, but for athletes looking to take on the competition with the best board possible.
Designed in conjunction with Armie Armstrong, the most recent board KT has done being the M-72, a 12’ flatwater ‘race’ SUP. Built in a week(!), the M-72 was promptly on a plane to Hawaii, where Penelope Strickland and the M-72 took out the prestigious ‘Poi Bowl race in Maui (that's the board, above, in action).
Remember the Div II? Around since the earliest days of windsurfing, a Div II was ‘the’ board you used if you were keen on going as fast as possible. Despite the suggestion Div II’s were a bit of a handful as soon as the breeze got over 12-14 knots, and are a bit of a 'dinosaur',KT has always maintained an urge to design and build the ‘ultimate’ Div II by applying years of experience, the ultimate CAD package, precision CNC machining and the latest in board (and boat) building techniques.
A good Div II was a weapon, and when you got more than a few together, the racing was intense. The result? It’s not only deadly, it’s a work of art were not often lucky enough to see in these days of Chinese manufactured ‘production’ boards whose design and construction objectives don’t necessarily line up with what’s technically possible.
But not everything goes to plan, every time. As part of the project we were heavily involved with (making the house on Marellan Drive), we needed to make a letterbox that would match the design of the house. All good in theory, however things went a little bit wrong when the measurements got a bit out of hand - put it this way the letterbox was more like an additional room in the house rather than somewhere the mail gets left! But nonetheless, made from plywood and G10, it's very cool, and now that it's size is a bit more realistic, it matches perfectly the design of the house.
We've been lucky enough to be involved in making some interesting statues. Perhaps the most 'explosive' project was one in which we worked with Pyro Company fireworks on the creation of a big statue that would be shown (incinerated!) at the Armageddon Expo in Auckland, October 2015 (below right). Similar to 2014, FormScan 3D digitally scanned the original, hand sculpted figurine (below left), thus creating a CAD file that we could use to CNC cut a much bigger, polystyrene version of parts of the figure.
Unlike last year, where we had created all of 'Anubis' in the same way, this time we cut just the head of 'Balroag', a monster from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, who had a fiery introduction to the crowds at Armageddon.
On a less combustible note, we worked with artist Eugene Kara to scan, digitise, create a CAD model (below) and CNC cut an enlarged version (below right) of the original figurine (below left). Called a Teko Teko figure, the design is a combination of aspects of Maori and European culture. Ultimately, the polystyrene model will be used to cast a bronze statue, which will in turn be mounted on a stone column alongside the Waikato Expressway.
We remain lucky enough to to work with a wide range of customers, each asking us to complete either part of, or an entire project. One of the interesting jobs we helped turn into reality was a selection of trophies for project Litefoot. Each differed slightly from the last - they were all different - another application of CAD and CNC technology that can create a unique finished product.