The knowledge connection for business

Client: Alive Surf School engages with Queen's University
Knowledge Provider: Queen's University
Sector: Advanced Manufacturing and Advanced Materials

Alive Surf School engages with Queen's University

Alive Surf School is based in Portrush and offers surfing lessons to a wide range of participants of all ages and abilities.

Alive Surf School Alive Surf School About the Company
The company would like to make surfing more inclusive by being able to offer surfing opportunities to those with disabilities but they have found that there is a very limited range of surfboards available for people with disabilities.

Most of the current boards are crude adaptations of the standard boards.

About the Case

The company identified the need to design and develop a bespoke surfboard for use by disabled riders which would incorporate a range of features such as additional supports and handles.

The creation of a 3D CAD model enabled the company to gain a greater appreciation of what the board would actually look like, enable potential customers to see the board, gain feedback from potential users and act as the basis for manufacture of a prototype.

The company approached the Northern Ireland Technology Centre at Queens University with their first Innovation Voucher. The Technology Centre reverse engineered an existing surfboard as the basis for the new product and designed a range of features including flexible torso and elbow supports, fabric handles, adjustable chest support, torso support recess and a magnetically coupled lower leg binding.

Following on from the first innovation voucher, the company applied for and were successful in being awarded a second innovation voucher for the manufacture and build of a prototype surf board.

The company returned to the Northern Ireland Technology for assistance in converting the CAD model into a fully working prototype. A standard soft board was sourced and purchased as the basis for the project.

The NITC project team modified the board for attachment of the various components. This involved sculpting sections from the board, bonding high density foams, manufacturing two part soft rubber supports in soft tooling, sourcing a bespoke inflatable chest support and creating a steel / foam laminated sandwich for the magnetic leg bindings.

All components were attached to the board using bespoke polymer fasteners manufactured by the Faculty Workshop at QUB.

About the Knowledge Provider
The Northern Ireland Technology Centre (NITC) is a technology and innovation centre, bridging the gap between academic research and commercial production, to meet the need of industry. As one of Queens University’s leader link’s with industry it is recognized as one of the foremost contributors of knowledge transfer to NI industry.

The Northern Ireland Technology Centre at Queen’s University has a long and successful history of working closely with local companies across a range of sectors to develop ideas and solutions for design, engineering and manufacturing issues. They have built local and national credibility by putting at the forefront our ability to work with, and deliver innovation and real value to industry within the tight timeframes that companies demand, breaking down the barriers that may have previously existed with industry/university collaboration.

The NITC has a team of engineers and designers with industrial experience, who bring a wealth of experience as well as great enthusiasm to all projects whether large or small offering access to the latest 3d CAD design Tools, and provide prototyping assistance and links into their wider industrial network built up over many years.

We are strong advocates of real collaborative working and partnership with our customers, believing this delivers the most effective results from idea to implementation.

The Results
The 3D CAD model produced in the first Innovation Voucher project enabled the company to present their ideas to potential customers who may be providing surfing lessons and also to gain valuable feedback from disabled riders.

The results were also successfully used as the basis for the second innovation voucher project which delivered a fully function prototype for trials and evaluation.

Concurrently, the NITC worked with Alive Surf School and Skunkworks Surf Co in Coleraine to address the limitations of the currently available soft boards and designed and build an upgraded soft board for surf schools with the assistance of funding through an available proof of concept scheme.

Details of Knowledge Provider: Northern Ireland Technology Centre
Contact Name Alan Mills, Senior Project Engineer
Telephone number: 028 9097 4282

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