Shaping the World's Largest Surfboard

For Visit Huntington Beach and the Epic Big Board Ride (USA), Symmetrix shaped one big stick.

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Catch the Wave – The Biggest Board

The World’s Largest Surfboard is also our Most Documented Project. Management took a trip out west in January for the premier of this documentary. Reports are that “I’ve never looked better or sounded more intelligent.” If that’s not a reason to keep an eye out for the release, I don’t know what is.


These are a few of our favorite things: Composite Architectural Surface

When Symmetrix Composite Tooling shapes a job, it eventually takes a recognizable shape. It could be the deck of a boat, or the root end of a wind turbine, or maybe the inverse of bus body, but eventually, it’s a recognizable carved shape. One of the more interesting jobs this year, a fiberglass architectural surface, looked like, well, I’m not sure I could put a word to it.

Which is probably a good thing, considering the secrecy surrounding the job. Symmetrix was contacted by an architect in early 2015. He had designed a modern house with lines that mimicked the surrounding dunes. Traditional building methods would not work. Their solution was to construct fiberglass panels and install them over steel framing. These shapes were so random, so “swoopy”, they thought maybe our CAD/CAM driven CNC machine could help.

And we could. Symmetrix’s engineers took the client’s CAD drawings – long, curved shapes – and determined how best to divide the pieces both for production and shipping purposes. They designed a pattern off of which the FRP tooling could be constructed. There were many variables – certain areas were needed first, some corners would be too tight for our machine to cut, or to difficult to lay fiberglass. The bizarre shapes were twisted and turned, perfect for fiberglass application. When the pieces were finished, we had 17 twisty-curvy parts, almost 200 square meters, that exceeded the customer’s expectations.

These are a few of our favorite things: Direct to Mold

Limited use tooling or (DTM) by-passes the pattern and plug making steps of composite construction by machining the mold side of the surface to support direct composite part making. This is done, for instance, to cut valuable time out of a limited run program or facilitate a prototyping initiative. Symmetrix DTM projects in the past include racing sailboats Comanche and Puma’s Mar Mostro.

In 2015, Symmetrix Composite Tooling worked with Gunboat on their newly designed 78’ catamaran to construct DTM tooling for the deck and coach roof. Materials were chosen to reflect the harsh conditions the tooling would face. At the most basic level, these parts would be sitting in the North Carolina sun and were therefore painted grey (not our customary black) to better withstand the heat.

The deck for a 78’ catamaran is not a small thing. Our machine and shop were put to full use as the deck was framed, cut and fully constructed.

The coach roof, while also large, had a different level of complication. As drawn by Gunboat, there were corners and crevices where our machine would not reach. Our engineers and shop manager reviewed the drawings and came up with a solution – separate it into parts. The CAD was deconstructed and configured to optimize machine use. The pieces were constructed separately in the same methods as used on the DTM deck, then reconnected to match the original drawings.

DTM parts are often more labor intensive than pattenr construction, but the end result allows our customers to get down to business faster and more efficiently. Whether working on prototypes, or limited run production, a DTM tool can help save you time and money.

These are a few of our favorite things: Foam Cuts

Welcome back to our year end countdown of our favorite jobs. This week, we would like to take a look at projects by product type.

Symmetrix Composite Tooling does one thing very well: we bring our customers’ complex shapes to life. This is done in one of three ways: as a Pattern or Plug, as a Direct to Mold Pattern, or as a Mold. Our methods are tested and proven, and pride ourselves on matching requirements and schedules of our customers.

Every once in a while, we receive a request that simply wants to make use of our second greatest asset (behind our employees): our 5-axis CNC machine and its incredible accuracies. One job this year was looking for a long, accurate cut out of EPS foam to be fiberglassed in California. It was going to be the Worlds Largest Surfboard.

Our most popular job this year was probably one of our most simple. Surf City USA, the tourist office for Huntington Beach, California, decided to go after the Guinness World Record for the most people riding on one surfboard and for the world’s largest surfboard. Originally contacting surf board makers in their area, it quickly became apparent that this project was better served by a boat builder. Westerly Marine of Santa Ana, California, was hired and asked Symmetrix to help with cutting the foam.

The design and construction team for the board covers some great names in surfing, boat building, and design. Symmetrix’s role was simple but significant: the 42’ board, divided in half, fit easily into our 86’ 5-axis CNC machine. The cutting of the foam took less than a day, boxing it for shipping took hours, waiting for permits to be faxed took longer than expected, then it was out the door to the builders at Westerly Marine. On June 20, 2015, 66 riders surfed for 12 seconds on the 42’ long 11’ wide board and were broke the Guinness Word Record. Join Visit Huntington Beach on January 21 to relive the ride.

These are a few of our favorite things: Marine

Setting up shop in Bristol, Rhode Island, you’re going to see a marine project or two come through your doors. This year, Symmetrix Composite Tooling had a few fantastic marine projects from a few of our favorite customers ranging in size, part numbers, and product types.

You may remember our last job with Hinckely, the Bermuda 50. Symmetrix built the pattern and the mold for the revamped Hinckley classic and have enjoyed watching the first few boats sailing in New England. This project, while smaller, is all Hinckley. The Talaria 34R, “a riveting yacht that heralds a return to the golden age of Hinckley runabouts”,  promises the beauty of a classic Hinckley with all the bells and whistles of modern boat construction. Symmetrix was able to take the CAD drawings from the Hinckley engineers and the direction from project mangers, and turn it into mold we think is just as beautiful as the final construction.

Hinckley asked Symmetrix to build both the patterns and the FRP molds for their jetboat. Over the second half of the year, we have been working hand in hand with Hinckley’s project managers as the design evolved from a computer file through to the bright orange deck mold you see below. While visions of sugar plums dance in our heads, work still continues on a few small parts to be delivered at the beginning of the New Year.

Enjoy a few pictures of the deck mold as you sip your egg nog. Merry Christmas! Don’t forget to follow Symmetrix alumni Comanche and Rambler as they sail in what promises to be a hair raising Rolex Sydney Hobart Race.

These are a few of our favorite things: Alternative Energy

Today I was hoping to introduce our favorite aerospace jobs. Unfortunately, the sales department brought attention to various NDAs signed, so we will have to skip aerospace. Just know that there were some pretty interesting projects. Instead, we’ll jump into alternative energy.

Over the years, we have helped our clients harness the power of tidal and wind energy. This year, it was all about wind power – with our customer TPI, we shaped over 450 square meters worth of wind turbine surfaces. TPI and Symmetrix have a long history of shaping large, detailed surfaces, while researching various materials and their uses. In 2015, we did two turbine projects – a 56.9m long blade (which will be showcased next week), and an 11.65m turbine. Tiny in comparison.

The 11.65m turbine went through the same rigorous design, build, and inspection process as its bigger brothers. Symmetrix chose materials based on heat and pressure tolerances from the client, performed vacuum testing, and shipped it in anticipation of being tens of molds and hundreds of wind turbines.