French startup utilizes high-performing BASF filament made of recycled material to make 3D-printed surfboards.

Although 90% of surfers are highly concerned about ocean health – most of them still surf on boards that are pollutive, non-recyclable and particularly toxic to ocean life. For this reason, after two years of research and development, French startup YUYO found a solution to this longstanding dilemma.

The young company developed a new kind of eco-designed surfboards – made of natural, recycled materials. The surfboards have a 3D-printed internal structure made of advanced Ultrafuse rPET filament – an environmentally friendly PET (polyethylene terephthalate) developed from recycled medical packaging, manufactured on a large-format industrial 3D printer. The rPET core is covered with a layer of biocomposite, which results in an eco-friendly surfboard.

The filament is produced by BASF under a new corporate brand for its 3D-printing business – called Forward AM. In addition to the material being sustainable, it also has very strong mechanical properties, which make it suitable for a variety of applications, according to Nathan Wood, Application Technology Specialist, BASF 3D Printing Solutions.

"We were able to ultimately provide YUYO with an environmentally friendly PET material that enabled the company to create an innovative, more biocompatible and more environmentally friendly surfboard," said Wood. "We provided a quality material and worked with the customer to ensure that it worked optimally on their 3D printer."

The surfboard's sustainability component is two-fold: in addition to the inner cavity of the board being made fromrecycled materials, the board is also 3D-printed, which reduces the environmental impact compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Most manufacturing technologies used are 'subtractive' in nature, meaning the final object is created by cutting parts of a larger material. This method leads to material waste. The 3D-printing process, on the other hand, manufactures by 'addition', meaning that the part is printed layer by layer. In this method, less material is needed to produce the part while reducing the material waste to almost zero.

"With the process of Fused Filament Fabrication for additive manufacturing, you're starting off with a plastic filament that is melted to create layers on top of layers. You're basically building your part – with minimal waste of material," said Benjamin Rader, Business Development Manager, BASF 3D Printing Solutions, North America. "You only print and use the material that you need, there is very little excess."

Additive manufacturing, a.k.a. 3D-printing, is allowing YUYO to produce tailor-made boards on demand and in a responsible manner by preserving aquatic systems, according to the company's website.

The goal with recycled filaments is maintaining consistent high quality and superb 3D-printing results. Therefore, YUYO approached BASF about a collaboration, since the chemical company's rPET recycled filament was the sole one that met the company's requirements, according to the French company.

"The challenge of working with a recycled filament is to have continued high quality of the material, for the same output, every single time," said Romain Paul, Founder of YUYO. "The Ultrafuse rPET filament delivers the expected printing experience – every single time."

The BASF team said they were thrilled to work with YUYO on this project and provide technical support to ensure the desired end-product was achieved.

Additionally, many people tend to think of 3D-printing as making smaller, less functional parts on a printer. The Forward AM staff was happy to work with YUYO on printing something as large as a surfboard. "Printing a large, functional part requires a robust material and process. We were particularly excited to work on this surfboard to show the capabilities of our material in a large-format industrial 3D printer," Wood added.

"There's always a level of excitement when leveraging 3D printing to work on an innovative consumer product – especially for a company that's working for a healthier outdoor lifestyle," Rader concluded. "At the end of the day, we're all hoping to leave the planet a little bit nicer than we found it."

To learn more about YUYO's 3D-printed surfboards made from Forward AM by BASF Ultrafuse rPET recycled material, click here.

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