Case Study - Spread Tow Fabrics reduce waveboard weight

For windsurfing, Fanatic (Molln, Austria) recently introduced a new version of its FreeWave board, called FreeWave TeXtreme, made with trademarked TeXtreme® Spread Tow carbon Fabric from Oxeon AB (Boras, Sweden).

In 2010, Fanatic experimented with new materials to improve waveboard mechanical properties. Aware of TeXtreme®’s use in similar applications, the design team started to analyze how to incorporate the material, including how to reduce weight without diminishing performance. Fanatic product engineer Jürgen May says a cooperative effort with Oxeon engineers enabled Fanatic designers to “reach a very low material weight of only 120 g/m2, and still achieve our technical requirements.”

Use of an unbalanced fabric resolved several technical problems. TeXtreme® combines Tow Spreading and Tape Weaving. By flattening and arranging the fibers in the woven structure in the straightest orientation possible, both in the plane and out of the plane, the fiber properties can be exploited most efficiently to carry tensile and compressive loads, says Oxeon. TeXtreme® performs similarly to a cross-ply construction of unidirectional tape, but, because it is a fabric, it is said to be considerably more drapable and less susceptible to delamination. It has a higher fiber volume fraction with fewer interlacing points than a traditional woven fabric and, therefore, correspondingly lower crimp frequency and crimp angle. Due to its construction with long fiber floats (20 to 50 mm), fiber waviness is minimized, allowing the filaments to immediately carry tension or compression load without first having to straighten. TeXtreme® can be produced at different tape areal weights for optimized fabric construction, and because it uses tapes instead of yarns in the weaving process, May notes, the flatter fabric allows a better surface finish than conventional carbon fabric. The fabric for Fanatic was produced with an 80 gsm warp and a 40 gsm weft, giving the board extreme stiffness in one direction, adds May, which improves system stiffness and breakage force.

“The result is a very light and lively Fanatic FreeWave TeXtreme 95, which weighs 10 percent less than our current top level technology,” concludes May.


This Case Study was published in High-Performance Composites January issue 2011.