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Kohola Flow Tech’s fin design, inspired by the flippers of humpback whales, uses glass-reinforced polymer to enhance rigidity, aesthetics, and environmental impact.

Stephen Moore

April 2, 2024

3 Min Read
Surfboard fin
Image courtesy of Kohola Flow Tech

At a Glance

  • Injection-molded thermoplastic component results in 30% less scrap compared with thermoset solution
  • High strength and rigidity, surface gloss, and creep resistance make surfing a breeze
  • Whale-inspired design improves flow control by cutting through turbulence and reducing side-to-side wobbling

Materials supplier Syensqo’s Ixef polyaryl amide (PARA) resin has been adopted by Drake Plastics for molding the innovative Kohola FlowTech 1 Single Fin, which enhances the flow control and efficient forward motion of surfboards to deliver longer and faster rides. The patented design of Kohola’s unique fins mimics the flippers of humpback whales. The efficiency of the injection molding process helped to achieve a manufacturing waste reduction of up to 30% compared with conventional fins produced using other techniques.

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The partners selected Ixef PARA 1022, a 50% glass-fiber-reinforced compound that exhibits high strength and rigidity, surface gloss, and creep resistance for the new FlowTech 1 Single Fin.

Sustainable, aesthetic thermoplastic solution

“We are very pleased to provide a thermoplastic compound that helps Kohola bring a more sustainable solution to the surfing industry with no compromises in product performance, aesthetics, or durability,” states Meghan Powers, global marketing manager for Syensqo’s Specialty Polymers business. “Indeed, unlike traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, Ixef PARA 1022 enables our customers to improve material usage efficiency as well as [overcome] waste and recycling challenges.''

“Our longboard fins require a material that supports the dynamic maneuverability and minimized resistance enabled by the natural whale pattern design, which improves flow control by cutting through turbulence and reducing side-to-side wobbling for a more-stable forward ride as well as safer, tighter turns,” explains David E. Shormann, founder of Oahu, HI–based Kohola Flow Tech. “Apart from offering the mechanical characteristics to meet those needs, extensive testing showed that Syensqo’s Ixef PARA also ensures the durability to handle marine conditions with extensive exposure to sun and saltwater.”

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Phenolic thermoset replacement

Bryan Quance, sales and applications engineer at parts molder Drake Plastics, adds: “The new Kohola fins are a game changer in the surfboard market. By replacing a phenolic thermoset material with Ixef PARA and taking full advantage of the injection molding process, we arrived at a high-performing high-end product with better resource efficiency and superior finish straight from the mold, eliminating the time and cost for secondary trimming and polishing.”

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Following the success of the FlowTech 1 Single Fin, Kohola is also considering specifying Ixef PARA for the company’s advanced FlowTech 3 Thruster Set. This new design will further maximize drive and stability through turns with controlled release for the ultimate combination of speed, power, and flow when surfing. In addition, the patented fin design has potential in other markets where wing-like structures are used, from ceiling fans and aircraft to marine propellers.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and a proud dachshund owner.

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