by Stephen White
Since its birth in the 60s, modern-day surfing has always been associated with going against the grain. While the board-shaping processes of that era are still broadly in use today, developments in computer technology may be about to spark wave-riding’s biggest rebellion yet.
The brainchild of a surfing instructor and snowboard teacher from the UK, Australian surfboard construction firm Disrupt uses 3D printing to create sticks that are then delivered to your door.
The only company to use this method, consumers can specify dimensions and design their own boards by uploading pictures from Instagram. The boards are then shaped, glassed and sprayed using precision computer technology.
As such the company is bringing affordable tech-enabled personalisation to the UK surfing community and will use Britain as its European base. Plans are also being made to introduce lines in other sports equipment - such as snow sports - within 12 months.
Founded in 2014 , Disrupt is a big success down under and has already created 1,500 boards for customers in Australia, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong. Customers have even more control over the product they are buying, highlighting a deepening relationship between sports and technology and the growing consumer appetite for it.
Disrupt also updates customers on the progress of their boards via text message. Setting up on British shores, the company has already signalled marketing partnerships with Wavelength and Animal alongside a number of distribution agreements with major retailers and links with several major British universities.
Recently the company launched Smart Surf, the world’s first socially integrated surfboard, which has embedded microchips providing information about the lifecycle of each board.
Gary Elphick, co-founder of Disrupt, said: “The UK has a strong surfing scene and we’re very excited to launch here to expand across Europe. Jason and I are both surf enthusiasts who found there wasn’t a means of expressing our individuality on our surfboards, without it costing a small fortune. That was the inspiration to set up Disrupt and it’s gone from strength to strength.
For Gary the benefits are three-fold: “It’s about educating people about how sports equipment is made and designed, innovating in a sector that badly needs it and celebrating people’s expression of creativity.”
“Our vision is to have every board printed using additive 3D technology so that files can be developed and printed anywhere in the world,” he added.
Having proved its model in Asia, Disrupt is “a great example of a company that is blending the worlds of design and technology to produce truly bespoke affordable items,” according to Annie Parker, a co-founder of the programme.
The firm takes the age old passion for artwork on surfboards and gives it a 21st century makeover, making the practice much more versatile and affordable.
Although the focus so far has been on surfboards, Disrupt is in the process of rolling out a full eCommerce platform for all sports equipments. It will introduce customisable snow sports gear over the next 12 months, and is working on 160 other lines including cricket, rugby and yoga.