Machine Design

Into the power zone

Balanced on his small kiteboard, Swedish kitesurfing champion Christian Dittrich brings his audience to its feet when he pilots his way into the power zone.

Films based on the aliphatic variants of Desmopan TPU are candidates for decorative surfaces on sports equipment that is frequently exposed to the sun.

In this mode wind force is at its strongest and the kite makes possible death defying stunts such as 10-meter high jumps that propel riders 40 m along the surf.

Dittrich is also an engineer who specializes in composite technology and mechanics. These skills let him turn his hobby into a profession manufacturing kiteboards through his company, Tablas Boards. He says the goal is to express the adventure, fun, and freedom of the sport in the look of the boards.

Dittrich favors decorative films made of an aliphatic variant of the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) Desmopan from Bayer MaterialScience. "These films are perfect for printing and unlike aromatic TPU films, they wont yellow even after long exposure to the sun," he says.

Finnish sports equipment maker Exel makes the films for Tablas. "The aliphatic TPU is lightfast, so theres no need to add UV protective coatings," says Adalbert Loidl, technical manager at the Exel subsidiary in Rohrdorf, Upper Bavaria. "For board manufacturers, this eliminates an expensive production step."

But Kitesurfers dont just choose boards because of how they look, says Dittrich. They also demand robustness. He says the aliphatic variant of Desmopan is highly scratch-proof and resists impacts and abrasions so kiteboards better withstand violent impacts with pebbles or rocks. The films also offer excellent mold surface reproduction, letting designers create finely detailed surface textures.

More information on kitesurfing and Tablas kiteboards:

For more information on Desmopan:

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