Sports

Signal Snowboards carves a glass board

Signal Snowboards carves a gla...
Fresh from the factory
Fresh from the factory
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Ready to shred
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Ready to shred
The inserts are drilled
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The inserts are drilled
The one of a kind mold is designed to give the snowboard its shape
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The one of a kind mold is designed to give the snowboard its shape
Looking like a board..
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Looking like a board..
On the snow
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On the snow
The board has a bit of pop
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The board has a bit of pop
This is why we don't have nice things like glass snowboards
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This is why we don't have nice things like glass snowboards
Thanks to tempering, it didn't shatter into shards, but it didn't exactly survive, either
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Thanks to tempering, it didn't shatter into shards, but it didn't exactly survive, either
Fresh from the factory
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Fresh from the factory
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It's been a while since we've checked in with the mad snowboard scientists at Signal Snowboards. In their ongoing efforts to experiment with the techiest, wildest, most multi-functional snowboard builds, they've come out with one of the most aesthetically pleasing board designs we've ever seen – an all-glass board. You go to the resort to see snow and mountains, why not get a clear view from beneath your feet.

Our first instinct when presented with the idea of a glass board was that the thing is going to shatter like fine China in the middle of a demolition derby. But, for the latest episode of Every Third Thursday, the guys at Signal ignored that type of conventional wisdom. They traveled to Italy and tapped into the glassmaking expertise of the locals. What followed was a one-of-a-kind process that created a glass board that was actually rideable ... if only for a day.

The five-day process started at the factory of Vetreria Aurora, a company that specializes in crafting glass into functional things like doors and shower cubicles. The experts there machine-carved two rectangular pieces of glass into matching snowboard shapes. The glass was then baked in the oven atop a one-of-a-kind insert built specifically to give the board its tip and tail lift. Then, the inserts for binding mounting were carefully drilled into the glass.

The inserts are drilled
The inserts are drilled

Had they ridden it at that point, it would have surely shattered like a wine glass on concrete. Instead, they took it to a Viraver Technologies, where it was tempered with a process more commonly used for windshields. The two tempered pieces were bonded together with a graphics insert, baked in a vacuum bag and popped out looking like a piece of fine crystal, ready to shred some snow crystal.

Not being ones to just hang their creations on the wall, however wise that might be, the Signal crew put the riding characteristics of glass to the test at Abetone ski resort. From the video, the board looks a little slippery, given its lack of metal edges, and doesn't exactly glide as reliably as freshly waxed P-tex. It also doesn't take long to start spidering like a windshield hit with a falling rock.

Given that the board couldn't survive a single day on the slopes, we don't think Signal will be broadening its retail line-up to include an all-glass board anytime soon. Still, it made for an interesting experiment. Check out the experiment in the video below.

Source: Signal Snowboards

Fragile Italian Glass Snowboard: Every Third Thursday

View gallery - 9 images
7 comments
mooseman
They should try making a board out of Gorilla Glass! Surely a thick slab of *that* would be able to take the stresses of snowboarding?
Onihikage
Why not use Gorilla Glass, I wonder? With the kind of strength it's capable of, I'd imagine such a thick board to be almost uncrackable - certainly not from the odd rock in the snow.
Paul Dutch
Surely, transparant polycarbonate is a more practical approach? http://gearjunkie.com/makboard-snowboard
Paul Hayden
gorilla glass is only scratch resistant not shatter resistant
VirtualGathis
I can attest to the truth of Paul Hayden's remark. I have an ASUS TF201 with Gorilla Glass. It has resisted scratching for a year. I left it in my back window while driving between places and it cracked after a gentle slide accross the back of my compact car. GG is not break resistant, it is highly tempered glass.
Expanded Viewpoint
Why not just have Scotty whip up a batch of transparent aluminum in the machine shop of the Enterprise? Seriously though, how about making a skeleton out of beta Titanium and casting molten glass around it? And if that doesn't work out, just use some Kevlar cloth like you would fiberglass and saturate it with either epoxy or cyanacrylate. You wouldn't be able to see through it, but what's there to see anyway with transparent glass?? It's not like you're missing out on anything as there's PLENTY of snow to see all around you, even in the trees!! - Randy
GRich
I'm sure Dow Corning has some formulas locked up in their vault of recipes that they could pull out for snowboards.