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Airdate: Nov 24, 2008
Scientist: Paul Schmitt

KSC Skateboard - Waffled

KSC Skateboard - Waffled
A skateboard manufacturer has found added strength in a corrugated wood design.

Transcript:

music; ambience skateboard park

“It makes the board lighter because we remove material. We made the skateboard thicker so it has more structural mass to it.”

One of the Holy Grails of skateboarding is designing a board with enough “pop,” or spring, to do tricks, and tough enough to handle the punishing physical demands of skateboarding. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

Schmitt: “So, this is a board we made here in the workshop here at the house, what, two or three months ago?”
Wray: “About. And I’ve been ridin’ it that long.”
Schmitt: “You’ve been riding it that long. Killer.”

That’s skateboard designer and manufacturer Paul Schmitt talking with pro skateboarder Jeremy Wray. The board they’re discussing has a new design, with air spaces inside like corrugated cardboard. Most skateboards are made of seven layers of plywood with no air spaces.

Schmitt: “So, how’s the board held up for you?”
Wray: “Surprisingly good. Yeah.”
Schmitt: “Good pop?”
Wray: “This one has.”
Schmitt: “You knowdo you know why the pop’s lasted?”
Wray: “Why is that?”
Schmitt: “Did you notice it’s thicker than a regular board?”
Wray: “Yeah.”
Schmitt: “It’s got air cavities in it. It’s got waffled wood in it. But what happens there, because of the air channels in there and the way the wood is waffled inside those channels, it dissipates energy. So, imagine when you land a trick and all this energy goes through your trucks, your wheels, into your board.”
Wray: “Right.”
Schmitt: “When you break a skateboard’s when the energy stop moving. So, what happens is it hits those hollow air cavities, and it dissipates the energy. The energy doesn’t come out of that hollow air cavity the same as it went in.”
Wray: “Right.”
Schmitt: “In the seven ply, you have the same density through the whole thing. So that density carries the energy until finally it dissipates out, you know, flexes, the board, hopefully doesn’t break it, you know. So, that’s why this board has lasted so long for you.”
Jeremy: “All right.”

Paul Schmitt is one of the participating scientists and engineers in the Kids’ Science Chalenge, a nationwide competition for third to sixth graders. Check out kidsciencechallenge.com. Pulse of the Planet’s Science Diaries are made possible by the National Science Foundation.