THE ELEMENTS COMBINED TO MAKE A PARTICULAR DISH
The choice of the ingredients is the creative part of the Recipe. Picking up the right materials is essential to reach that particular flavour the Baker is searching for. Like an endless convergence towards an ideal standard, selections and combinations are part of a continuous search process, a quest for the better taste.
Natural performance. Originally, these two words used to go hand in hand. For some reasons, since the early stages of the industrial era they are being pulled apart. Structural performance hardly rhymes with natural products anymore. So.. what happened? Let’s go back one step.
They are on the forefront of state-of-the-art structural performance. Composite means a combination of at least two different materials which, once bonded together, give an assembly stronger than each material taken separately. In the late 80’s the upcoming of synthetic materials marked a rupture, where the performance escalated with petroleum-derivated possibilities. This race towards the toughest materials slowly overtook the engineering aspect of performance, or how to steer quality by thinking it through. One shall not forget that the first composite material is over 300 Millions years old, and can be found in every forest of the world. Wood.
In wood, Cellulose fibers are mixed with an organic polymer called Lignin. The fibers give out the strength, when kept closely in shape together: the resin is the binder that enables the tree to grow high. Fibers + resin = strong. Composite.
Wood has a natural range of variety quite impressive. Over 60.000 species grow all over the world. Each one having his own shape, density, size, grain, stiffness. This variation range is also observed at the species level: the location of the growth place, its climate, environment, altitude, and slope orientation are few key parameters shaping the tree and defining its individual assets. Knowing where the tree grows and when it is harvested is essential. Full moon cycles are said not to be appropriate for the cut – in the way the moon pulls up tides on the Ocean, it pulls up the sap up to every branch tip, making it a denser and heavier. New moon gives good wood.
Due to its outstanding general dynamic properties, wood is predisposed to be the soul constituent of a board. Trees soak every aspect of the terrain they grow on; they are used to specific temperature variations, moisture contents and atmospheric pressures. In that way, local trees know best about local hills. Wood is predisposed to ride on the terrain it aged on, the local backyard.
It constitutes the soul and guts of the board, conditions its pop and springback behaviour. The Woodcore is the main structural part of a deck, which makes your board lively and dynamic. Different stringers are assembled along their length, to avoid the warping of massive wood, thus ensuring geometrical stability over time. It also gives the opportunity to alternate the species used for each stringer, opening up infinite possible combinations. Stiffer woods like Ash, Beech, Maple are mixed with lighter ones like Poplar, Spruce, Lime-tree, to reach the optimal stiffness to weight ratio and enhance the structural performance.
Unlike trees, Bamboo is a grass. One of the fastest growing plant on the planet, is it made from hollow circular stems piled onto eachother. These closed air compartments are supporting the weight of the branch, acting like a dumping system (the name Bambu originated from the Kanarese language after the successive series of cracking sounds occuring when the plant was taken down). This particular natural arrangement gives it a higher compressive strength than concrete, combined with a very versatile bending behaviour: the more it bends, the softer it becomes. Naturally rot and waterproof material, it is an ideal sidewall protection to the woodcore
Dampening. The Cork oak tree has the particularity to build up a thick bark when growing up, in the way sheep accumulate wool during the winter. This soft protection is a rugged material that can be harvested every decade to produce Cork. As only the bark is extracted, it does not harm the tree: a new layer of Cork regrows, making it a renewable source. Also used to retain the wine in a bottle, its waterproof properties enable a protection of the woodcore around thin locations. There, where the vibration dampening is the most efficient, Cork stabilizes the structure by lowering tips eigenfrequencies.
Peeled out around the trunk with a blade, veneers are thin slices of wood that can be flatten down like paper. With thicknesses down to half a millimeter it becomes, once coated, an optimal protection of the inner composite structure. Each species has its unique shade of brown, and can be pigmented enabling aesthetical creative combinations. Possibly blending into eachother in wood Marquetry, they constitute the outer most layer of the board, the topsheet.
TOWARDS 100% ORGANIC?
So, now what? Aren’t there enough products out there which, once worked and assembled together, bring that outstanding natural performance required for a board? Surely yes, but there is still a lot of work ahead. Presently, synthetic complements help improving the lifetime of the board, making it more eco-efficient on the long term. And there is the current balance to sustainable development: natural ingredients preserved between strong synthetic skins.
Working with high-end engineering techniques and quality products topping up aeronautics standards ensure the longest lifetime for the boards, and finally contributes to lower down the overall carbon footprint. In that way, the natural constituents are preserved and enhanced to their maximal structural capabilities.