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Why not Carbon Fiber?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
I was just thinking, if using FRPs (fiber reinforced plastics), ski boots could be custom-made to order, lighter, stronger and the flex could easily be adjusted by varying the number of layers.

Anyone know of any attempts to do this?

I'm tempted to try and make my own boots. Autoclaving is only needed for maximum strength and aesthetics (strength issues can be over come with more layers), so a DIYer could probably pull this off, especially if he has experience with FRPs.
post #2 of 36

I've kind of wondered about this one, too...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
I was just thinking, if using FRPs (fiber reinforced plastics), ski boots could be custom-made to order, lighter, stronger and the flex could easily be adjusted by varying the number of layers.

Anyone know of any attempts to do this?

I'm tempted to try and make my own boots. Autoclaving is only needed for maximum strength and aesthetics (strength issues can be over come with more layers), so a DIYer could probably pull this off, especially if he has expereince with FRPs.
...race fit boots work, but they are kind of in the Stone Age because they take a lot of customization to fit (and even then they're never really comfortable...), get aligned, get the flex pattern right, and so forth. Tennis and running shoes, by comparison, are amazingly high tech, functional, supportive, and comfortable...and if they're not using carbon fiber, my guess is they will probably consider doing so fairly soon. I'm a real carbon fiber/composite materials freak...I have two carbon fiber road bikes, and my tennis rackets by Head have carbon fiber, Metallix, and all kinds of other good stuff in them.

What I'd kind of like to see is a boot that comes apart, almost like the old Scott or Raichle clamshell, so it's a snap to get into, easier to customize, etc., and doesn't take forever to get to fit because you can vary the whole shell instead of just punching out or grinding out from the inside. The Tecnica Icon, for example, had interchangeable cuffs, and a bunch of other customization stuff that seemed to work pretty well. So is it time for new materials/new design for our ski slippers?
post #3 of 36
I think CF is too hard, not flexible enough, too rigid.
post #4 of 36
post #5 of 36
The Apex boot is for you if you "save your high-speed turns for the drive home" and "get your aerials via high-speed quads". That boot has poser written all over it.
post #6 of 36
FWIW, when I posted here I did not know about the Apex.
post #7 of 36
Nice. I was wondering if leather would qualify as carbon fiber.
post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rio View Post
The Apex boot is for you if you "save your high-speed turns for the drive home" and "get your aerials via high-speed quads". That boot has poser written all over it.
If your balance was good enough, you would shun any sort of boot or binding. Zen masters ski and snowboard without either boot or binding! I think Tai Chai Skier did that too. Search the video archives.
post #9 of 36
Funny you should post this Rich. I've got some experience laying up plastic and the idea of a DIY boot has kept coming to mind in the past several days right before dinner. I push it out of mind as just another fanciful idea, but perhaps I shouldn't.

The thought process I've followed is that a practical design would be more akin to today's 3 piece designs than today's overlap boots. The problem is I don't like skiing in any of the 3 piece boots. I haven't thought about it enough to decide if that is due to the design in general or just in the detail. If it is just in the detail the idea may be worth pursuing further.

telerod15: nicely done, carbon fiber indeed.

edit: as to the reasons why they don't exist...I'll take my best semi-educated guesses.

1) Lange happened. People followed. This is the ski industry. Until something else happens that the collective can't possibly ignore, it is unlikely much will change.
2) You want them to build 3D laminated parts from raw materials orders of magnitude more expensive? Tall order.
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
While thats not what I had in mind it is very interesting. I would love to hear of a test in them. Maybe Exoticskis, can get his hands on them.
post #11 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Schussboelie View Post
I think CF is too hard, not flexible enough, too rigid.
By adjusting the thickness the boots can be very flexible. Also keep in mind that while current boots, especially race boots, rely more on the shell's plasticity rather than the hinge for flex, an ultra stiff CFshell, say 200 stiffness on a conventional scale, could actually utilize a hinge, and that could then have infinite flex control with no lateral compromise unlike current designs. So you can have a boot using the same shell that would be good for Bode's 180 requirement as well as a novice's 50 requirement.
post #12 of 36
Carbon fiber is both stiff and brittle. And by reputation not easy to work with. Likewise fibers like Kevlar have their quirks. And unless things have changed in recent years - getting layers of different materials to bond well without delamming can be a challenge.

Furthermore, the higher end resins you'd likely want to use are serious stuff. Epoxies, vinyl-ester, polyester --- be prepared to make some serious investments or get access to some appropriate serious industrial workspace if you really are going to work with that stuff and want to avoid a) creating your own EPA supersite and b) taking a few years off your life. Also, I would not be surprised if you'd have to resort to vacuum bagging or some similar process to manage resin to fiber ratios... I'm sure you get the idea...

If you do this, I wanna see the TR with pics!
post #13 of 36
what spindrift said. plus cost.

I sure as hell wouldn't want to fork over the cash for a CF boot that is lighter and perhaps stiffer than my Falcon. I'd rather spend a week heli skiing in AK.

I see no practicality in CF boots.

CF cuffs maybe, or various parts, but not a whole boot. My falcon has a carbon reinforcment in the spoiler. That's enough.

That apex boot that comprex posted looks like a snowboard binding more than anything. Perhaps they're misapplying their technology.

(I hate CF poles, btw. Basic Scott Aluminum rocks.)
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by spindrift View Post
And by reputation not easy to work with.
There are many, many challenges. The design challenge seems even more formidable to me. You want to build a ski boot with carefully controlled stiffness, meeting the ISO standard, and reliable with the vast range of abuse that current extremely resilient elastomer ski boots sometimes don't hold up to. Meaningful analysis of composite parts could fairly be compared to rocket surgery. The software tools don't come in academic versions of popular software, and license cost is on the order of a year of my rent.
Quote:
Furthermore, the higher end resins you'd likely want to use are serious stuff. Epoxies, vinyl-ester, polyester --- be prepared to make some serious investments or get access to some appropriate serious industrial workspace if you really are going to work with that stuff and want to avoid a) creating your own EPA supersite and b) taking a few years off your life. Also, I would not be surprised if you'd have to resort to vacuum bagging or some similar process to manage resin to fiber ratios... I'm sure you get the idea...
You can, quite legally and fairly safely, work with many of the appropriate aerospace epoxies in a garage. Many, many people have built Rutan's aircraft designs and lived to tell the tale. I've built some parts (such as: CFRP car sunroof replacement panels with cast epoxy mounting bosses) with very little skill. Sure you screw up some stuff (do that with cheap uncertified glass cloths, btw ) but you learn quickly and it is a pretty cool skill set. I probably have the MSRP of a new pair of boots in tools, some I had for other tasks like the vacuum pump.

I'm not saying safety isn't a big concern (you do not want to develop an epoxy allergy, I haven't yet, many people have) but I do think this is within the grasp of someone who likes to fiddle and fabricate.

I push the thought in this thread out of my mind because
-I've got too many projects already
-I like my ski boots, though I hate the weight, and I don't care much for any AT boots
-The design task to make something more than a cumbersome paperweight would be considerable work
-I haven't gotten to back of napkin yet, just thought, but I don't like 3 piece boots and I think a lightweight boot utilizing CFRP would need to be broadly similar
-Why? Ski boots work well. For me it has to be light weight. Merely losing 10 more pounds off me would be much easier, cheaper, and preferable.

A friend and I put together a downdraft worktable with a fairly effective carbon filtration system. If you vacuum bag and infuse you can easily get away without that sort of thing for some fairly large parts (car roof panels, etc.)

Maybe if I get a really bad ski jones some year when I'm stuck in Wichita or something.
post #15 of 36
So, next technology on the list...

Are any of the materials for 3-d printers suitable for ski boots? I keep getting ads to the effect of "make working parts, not just prototypes."

Of course, you could do a hybrid, where you started with a shape and did a selective laminate wrap.
post #16 of 36
No major argument Garret. This sort of thing can be done. But my point is that these are indeed serious chemicals (and materials in general) to work with. And not necessarily easy ones to work with. And while you can indeed do so safely, this is not merely a matter of spreading some newspaper on the workbench & spinning up an oscillating fan by the window. I assume someone building a composite aircraft is willing to invest time and money in getting lots of things right
post #17 of 36

Fiber resin

Please check the history of Rosemount ski boots.

They were made of traditional fiberglass and resin, plus METAL
No flex in those shells! There was a lot to like about the idea. But they were low boots.

CF allows greater stength and stiffness in equal weight over glass, but takes extra care to fabricate.

There is no need to fear composite fabrication. Epoxy systems are not so bad. boat builders and wood workers have been working with the materials for many years. Aviation flies on the stuff. Ovens and vacuum bags are NOT rocket science!

Go for it! Make 'em light!

CalG
post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post
Of course, you could do a hybrid, where you started with a shape and did a selective laminate wrap.
Not done with a custom last, but there have been a few boots that had FRP "exoskeletons" of sorts. Rossignol, Tecnica both come to mind. I think it was a marketing phase about 10 years ago, didn't seem to stick around.

3D printing for production parts...cool.

spindrift: the polyester resin systems which have a lot of styrene monomer (carcinogen) in them are often used without much more than a dust mask, tyvek suit, and a fan. I wouldn't consider that smart...I wonder if there is a link between boat production in Florida and....nevermind.
post #19 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdf View Post
So, next technology on the list...

Are any of the materials for 3-d printers suitable for ski boots? I keep getting ads to the effect of "make working parts, not just prototypes."

Of course, you could do a hybrid, where you started with a shape and did a selective laminate wrap.
Actually I've thought of that too, and it is very plausible. The best thing about it is that the new 3D printers produce items in resins that are so strong they can be field tested or actually made as the end products . They can make an engine block out of plastic and actually assemble and run it, amazing stuff.

A small machine goes for about $50k, they are available for lease as well. But you would also need a 3D scanner to get an image of the foot, I dont know how much those things go for. It's all very doable, just a matter of writing the software, or tinkering. IMHO, this would be a cost affective way of making wonderfully precisely fit boots, though I do not know about the weight of these resins.
post #20 of 36
Dynafit makes CF AT boots, their toxic-waste-green ZZero line, which I believe are the lightest AT boots out there, but whose enhanced lateral stiffness provides superior downhill performance.
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richie-Rich View Post
Actually I've thought of that too, and it is very plausible. The best thing about is that the new 3D printers produce items in resins that are so strong they can be field tested or actually made as the end products . They can make an engine block out of plastic and actually assemble and run it, amazing stuff.

A small machine goes for about $50k, they are available for lease as well. But you would also need a 3D scanner to get an image of the foot, I dont know how much those things go for. It's all very doable, just a matter of writing the software, or tinkering. IMHO, this would be a cost affective way of making wonderfully precisely fit boots, though I do not know about the weight of these resins.
Well, that would be a coordinate measuring machine. Somewhere in the $100K range, I think? (A guess.) Used by QA inspectors - basically a probe hooked to a series of precisely-instrumented joints.

In the old (pre-security) days, this would have been a good evening project. Course, this stuff didn't exist in the old days.


EDIT -- way off. I did a search. You can get a mechanical CMM with a work space big enough for a foot with 3 micron accuracy for $15K (used). I think that should be accurate enough...
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by comprex View Post
Isn't that the new Hanson boot?
post #23 of 36
Wait a minute... let's slow down.

The question starting this thread is "Why not CF?"

I reiterate it; "Why CF?"

Carbon Fiber is great at times, but that doesn't mean it's always great.

Carbon Fiber poles suck azs. They vibrate and... well... suck.

I'm just not convinced that the highest-end platic/fiber technology is necesarily better for our goals in ski boots.

Now... I'm sure some old vets said the same thing when we were investigating plastic molds to replace our leather boots.

Nonetheless, a carbon fiber shell just seems wwaaaaay excessive. I don't wanna drive an indy car on the road. On the track, of course. But... actually owning an indy car for the drive to work seems a bit nuts.

Why does any skier need carbon-fiber boots?

I don't buy it.

RR is trolling again.
post #24 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by samurai View Post
Carbon Fiber poles suck azs. They vibrate and... well... suck.
Try some nice ones. No doubt in my mind a high end composite pole is stiffer, lighter, way mo betta than a 7xxx series aluminum pole. I use aluminum poles too though because the value proposition is a whole lot better.

Here, "cheap" on eBay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/SWIX-MACH-CT1-CT...QQcmdZViewItem

IMHO, the best poles on the market are obtained by buying a set of Scott rentals...same shaft as the WC SL but lighter with less paint, big colorful baskets, you supply grips of choice to replace the cheesy rental ones. Like 15 bucks.
Quote:
Why does any skier need carbon-fiber boots?
Because trudging uphill with 10 or 12 pounds of plastic on your feet sucks? Because choosing between stiff boots that walk like cement and AT boots that ski like poo sucks? I'm not sure a laminated multipiece FRP boot is an answer, but I think questioning why I can't have a stiff, good skiing, lighter boot is a fair question.
post #25 of 36
In response to samurai's question as to why anyone would want CF boots, I can agree that there aren't any out there right now that I'd want to use, but there are many advances being made currently in carbon/kevlar (I have motorcycle gloves with C/K... awesome!) weaves that have the potential for impact on our sport in a few years. I'm sure boot companies are looking at it, but it's an expensive proposition and I'm sure you'd only find it in super-high end race boots anyways. The $$ would far outweigh the actual weight savings of the boot to most.

DIYers like RR and myself do alot of fantasizing about making our own stuff, and like to do research on materials or concepts that we're interested in... so I don't blame him for being curious about CF, it's just not practical as of this point in time. I've seen a race boot made almost exclusively of CF and wish I could remember where, but it looked more like an iron maiden than an actual ski boot. I'd leave it to Lange, Nordica and Technica for now, but I guess somebody's gotta take the next step...
post #26 of 36
My $.02:

The main advantage of carbon fiber is that it's lightweight. That's why you see it used for masts on performance sailboats. But they don't use it for the keel, because you want the keel to be heavy for ballast.

Likewise, Heavy boots and heavy skis bust through the crud better than lightweight gear. Lightweight is not an advantage here, so why go to all that effort to use lightweight boot?

Maybe I can see it for backcountry/tele/AT applications, or for helmets, but for liftserved downhill boots what's the point?
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
Maybe I can see it for backcountry/tele/AT applications, or for helmets, but for liftserved downhill boots what's the point?
Some of us get off lifts at twelve thousand feet and then start hiking. Try it, then ask this question again.
post #28 of 36
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Walt View Post
My $.02:

The main advantage of carbon fiber is that it's lightweight. That's why you see it used for masts on performance sailboats. But they don't use it for the keel, because you want the keel to be heavy for ballast.

Likewise, Heavy boots and heavy skis bust through the crud better than lightweight gear. Lightweight is not an advantage here, so why go to all that effort to use lightweight boot?

Maybe I can see it for backcountry/tele/AT applications, or for helmets, but for liftserved downhill boots what's the point?
Another reason other than what Garret stated is safety.

Once you pop out of your bindings, less weight on your feet means less chance that your now flailing legs will have you end up with knee damage. Swinging 15lbs worth of boots at the extreme ends of your legs just adds to the strain, but having boots that weigh as much as a pair of tennis shoes, no problem. If you like heavy gear that too can be adjusted, or simply buy heavier skis.

The strength is also a big factor in my opinion. Since I am thinking of a custom made boot, not a mass produced one, the fit will be unparalleled, and the flex, using the hinges, can be precisely adjusted.

Think of a race car, engineers go to great lengths to make the chassis as stiff as possible, by doing so the suspension does the work of keeping the car on the road not the erratic flex of the chassis. Since they have reduced or eliminated outside factors, the suspension can then be tweaked most accurately and indefinitley.

The way all boots are now its hit or miss with flex and fitment.
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Garrett View Post
Some of us get off lifts at twelve thousand feet and then start hiking. Try it, then ask this question again.
Sorry. No can do. I'd be completely out of breath. (c:
post #30 of 36
I thought of another tech trick that might be useful. I was once browsing in a high-end shoe store (just browsing -- no way I'm buying $400 dollar shoes that don't fit into bindings). They had a machine that measured the pressure distribution from your feet.

It was basically a grid of load cells under a flexible pad. That ought to be cheap to build and might give some useful information. (Figuring out what to do with the info would be the hard part.)

As to hiking at 12kft - don't try to keep up with the young'uns. That led to high-intensity wind sucking which I suspect contributed to the bronchial infection I've been fighting since I got back. Should have made them wait for me....
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