Idle speculation - custom foils

A thread for idle speculation,

Historically foils have been pretty purely production runs only, but listening to @Erik develop his new foil, it seems like the development costs are not insanely high as I might have expected (worthwhile sinking some time into one-offs to help iterate). This is in order to get to a finished product created with moulds etc.

Alternatively it seems like with cnc’ing a foil isn’t prohibitively expensive either, and the cnc’d tails seem to be among the best in the game

Will we see custom foils made to order? (a foil is waaay more sensitive to bad design than a surfboard?)

How small a run of production foils is viable? (if you can sell 20-30 foils with a $300-500 profit then you could justify a $10k setup cost?)

Will all the “pros” have a pro-model? Will that be what sells foils (I mean yes is the answer here, if history of everything is a guide)

(what is a pro foiler?)

In surfing the money is in selling hyped pro-models and quiver killers, but for a lot of people there will always be something enticing about working with a shaper to refine the design of a custom board, or shaping your own boards

Edit: Nice :ocean:
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I have made a few foils now, and had zero experience with anything like this before. It is not prohibitive in skill or cost, but it’s bloody hard to get a foil that performs as well and is as strong as the factory options. Without pre-preg and autoclave I feel like everything I make really is just for experimenting and not for the long term.

If fuses and mast connections settled on a few standards (think FCS/Futures) that would open the door right up. Getting a custom to be a good fit is time-consuming. We got there pretty fast with board mounts, so maybe it will happen…

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Presuming pre-preg and autoclave are accessible within reason for the prototypes?

I don’t think it’s viable for full DIY foils to meaningfully perform at all, most of them seem very marginal.

Cnc foils seem to perform, but at a weight penalty.

Agree on the standards, but I suppose we are likely a way off from that. If one established brand aligned with another on a mast/fuse interface, we’d be a huge step ahead. Already we’ve established No Limitz as the mast of choice for a few top riders, only time will tell if this leads to something (interesting thread here)

I think the future is manufactured blanks. Think like a lift 200 looking wing that fits to production mast/fuse that can be cut and customized to your specs. They’d be built in a way that you could cut up to X inches off the tips/leading/trailing edges. Essentially wings designed to be chopped with minimal tooling. Each person could DIY it for feels they like, using collective knowledge like there is on here. There’d be a handful of base shapes, and the within reason you’d be able to go crazy on the optimization.

Anyone looking to go into business? lol

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Have built a fair number of wings myself. From design, through sourcing materials to building, adapting to fuse and tuning, there is huge mount of work (time) involved. Using Erik (an advanced rider that knows what he wants) and Clifford (one of the best foil designers giving free RnD and prototype time) is maybe not the ideal example of what’s coming 8n terms of custom wings being accessible to the average rider.
Having chopable blanks is an interesting idea, but the average foiler (and I include myself) does not not know shit about airfoils or tip profiles and might feel some level of satisfaction if his angle-grinder-hacked blank somehow works, but will never be on par or better than the next model coming from progressive companies like Unifoil, Armstrong et al.

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Fair. It’d be very reliant on the initial shape of the design, as well as the collective knowledge available. I guess I’m thinking they’d come from the factory close to a rideable foil, but built in a way that was very conducive to chopping/customization.

Maybe this would be more suited to tails?

Fair point. If the wing is designed to allow up to x cm being chopped off the tips. Then maybe. But trimming cm off the TE and grinding the profile to fit a Friday afternoon beer-infused airfoil eye… Not really. HA stabs there’s more room for grinder error. Recently tried a custom G10 tail of the same area but very different profile and tip designs as my chopped HA tail. Night and day. So there’s some custom shaper potential as KdWild has proven.

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“Friday afternoon beer-infused airfoil eye” made me laugh, I’ll be stealing that one from you.

I agree that the factory productions will be better than and homebrew for 95% of foilers, but it’d be fun to let people dabble a bit, especially if they had a decent performance platform to jump off from. The KDW tails are too nice (and too expensive) to justify putting them under the knife.

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Those KD tails are expensive not just because the designer know his shit, but CNC time, G10 and shipping… But there’s other options here. Maybe a PLA printed core and your local “shaper” vacuum bags a few layers of carbon over it. But then it’s still just a tail (which can change a good front into a great one as we know).

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It’s unfortunate you couldn’t make them solid so they could be sanded into shape without needing to be sealed. That would let you continue to sand and refine as you used it. Or would that be possible?

The G10 tails can be sanded all the way of course. Some tails like the AXIS 460 are solid carbon and can be sanded as far as you’d like to take them.

Solid G10 or carbon front wings are pretty heavy from what I understand.

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It’s Friday, so here we go:

Agreed, no one is going to hand shape a “good” foil, especially not on a boozy Friday.

But I can’t see your argument around the lack of a market for high quality DIY foils, either for increasing performance or for personal satisfaction. As @Tanner.0 said, people absolutely 100% certainly want to dabble:

Personal satisfaction

  1. Shape3d, Finfoil, Winghoppper are all specifically for DIY. Literally send your design off and get the foam cut (the “easy” part).
  2. RC planes a great example of how much time and effort people will spend building highly functional airfoils purely for their own entertainment and satisfaction. It’s really not rocket science. I designed an RC plane wing, got it CNC wire cut for $50 and finished it myself. Flew fine and was very satisfying.
  3. Sup/surf/paddle boards, surf fins all have their own pipeline of design to finish that are scratching a similar itch.
  4. Literally hundreds of $10k DIY efoils.

Performance

  1. People DIY quality versions of every component - masts, fuses, tails, wings. Cedrus, NoLimitz, KDfoils etc are literally all just people applying their specific interest and insight to a DIY project (that they happened to then commercialise).
  2. Kane appears to ride his CNC cut wing in downwind racing, presuming it performs at or above the commercial products?
  3. Building something for your niche conditions that isn’t commercially viable - the commercial products are all designed for a minimum viable demand (except for maybe Axis lol)

Airfoil design concepts are relatively attainable and incredibly well established due to aviation. Especially if you’ve built RC planes, the science is pretty accessible (see Kane, Clifford both RC background/experience). It obviously takes time to get to a point where a design is worth sinking some money into, and a large risk of blowing it with duds, but describing airfoil design as some art reserved for the high priests… look at the required chop of armstrong wings. It’s early days and loads of room for experimentation.

The only thing that holds this back is lack of accessible high quality low volume manufacturing process (as far as I’m aware, and other than CNC)

FWIW I phoned all my local machinists and none would take on CNC work

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Armstrong beat you to it with the blanks! lol
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It’s a cool idea, but modifying the wingtips is such a small portion of the overall design that I guess this does in fact exist with most production wings viable for chopping into something new (occasionally this even leads to improvements!

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That’s crazy, I hadn’t seen that. Super cool a manufacturer is open to people tweaking their designs. The real question becomes - How cost efficient can we make experimentation? If those front wings are 1k each, not many people can chop more than one or two. You have to chop progressively until either you get it right or you over do it and you junk it and start over.

I agree that people love to tinker - I think that may be something that differentiates the foil brain from the surf brain. No one is cutting their short board fins or sanding the rails, but it seems like the majority of foilers are open to some level of tinkering, even if its just shimming.

KDW is next level, he doesn’t count as a boozy DIYer like the rest of us mere mortals.

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Surfer’s used to. Think about all the custom fins guy’s rode. Foil’s are just our generation’s version of “the shortboard revolution”.

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