Final prep for lamination

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At this stage I pretty much have all of the parts of the board completed and ready for lamination. The final steps involve cleaning and prepping mold skins, ensuring correct alignment of the core to the base, and laying everything out to ensure an efficient layup process.

The snowboard is pressed between two sheets of smooth aluminum. These must be smooth and waxed so that excess epoxy does not permanently glue the board to the aluminum, and so that the resulting base and top sheet of the board are smooth and unblemished. Any dimple in the aluminum translates directly into a dimple in the snowboard base or top sheet, which is unacceptable. A dimple in the top sheet is cosmetic and in the rare, unfortunate case that this happens we offer a discount, or to completely rebuild the board. A dimple in the base always results in a rebuild.

The bottom skin is left with an unwaxed strip down the center, no longer than the effective edge of the board. This is sprayed with a thin coat of 3M Super 77 and the base is affixed directly to the mold. The base is carefully aligned to the mold during this step, and marks are left on the mold to aid alignment when inserting the whole thing into the press.

The top mold skin is placed on top of the press and swept, then the top sheet is placed on top of that and swept. These will remain there until they are needed in the final steps of lamination.

All of the components of the board are laid out carefully on a workbench where the lamination will occur. Everything is placed in easy reach and set in the order in which it will be needed. The two layers of fiberglass are placed on a separate table which is covered in plastic wrap. They will be wet with epoxy early during layup then placed into the laminate later.

Core alignment

A critical part of layup is alignment of the core to the base, and thus the mold (since the base is already aligned to the mold.) The core may be aligned to the base carefully when it is first placed during layup, but as the laminate is placed into the press it is quite easy for the core to shift. Any core shift is unacceptable and results in a lost board, so we take care to ensure this simply cannot happen.

Shops that build specific board models have dedicated “cassettes” for each shape, with permanent fixtures to hold the base and the core in alignment. Doing the same thing for a one-off custom build is impractical, but there is a simple alternative. Extra “alignment inserts” are affixed directly to the base. Alignment holes in the core match these insert locations, and positively align the core to the base. These inserts are never drilled out and exposed in the final product; they remain contained within the laminate. The bottom layer of glass is cut to allow these two alignment inserts through without distorting the glass layer.