The engineers at Salt Lake City-based DPS Skis announced the development and commercialization of renewably derived, algae-based sidewalls into all its skis beginning this year.
The collaboration with Checkerspot, Inc., a U.S. ski manufacturer and material innovation company, produced a material and fabrication process that increases ski performance and decreases petroleum reliance.
“Working with our partners at Checkerspot, DPS has accessed the Wing Platform to co-develop sidewalls around DPS’s specified performance demands. This has allowed us to produce more sustainable products and improve the award-winning performance of our Pagoda Tour and Pagoda skis. This project is bigger than DPS, however. We hope this work can inspire and instruct other manufacturers, even beyond the outdoor industry, in what’s possible when it comes to reducing carbon footprint with the mass commercialization of bio-based components,” said Thomas Laakso, vice president of product and operations, DPS.
The Wing Platform capabilities allow both companies to “rapidly iterate on the formulation designed for DPS’ performance specifications, which optimizes damping, impact resistance and hardness.”
Over the course of a year, the Checkerspot and DPS product teams trialed multiple formulations in the Checkerspot Design Lab, the DPS R&D Lab, and on-snow in the Wasatch Mountains and New Zealand. The result is “an algae oil-derived sidewall with 62 percent bio content per ASTM D6866 and exceptional bonding characteristics, resulting in a stronger ski that is more resistant to delamination than a petroleum-based ABS sidewall.”
“The team at Checkerspot has driven real materials innovation in its Algal Wall product. The DPS team worked with them to refine new fabrication techniques and employ new processes for mixing and storage to enable a tenfold increase in production volume,” said Laakso.
Checkerspot’s Wing Platform combines “biotechnology, materials science, advanced fabrication techniques, and consumer engagement to develop application-specific materials designed specifically around the performance demands of the end-user. The Wing Platform empowers product designers to innovate with more purpose-built materials.”
“It takes a community to enact systemic change,” said Scott Franklin, chief scientific officer, Checkerspot. “Working with DPS design aspirations was an incredible opportunity for Checkerspot’s design lab team to further push Algal Wall technology, optimizing it for DPS’ unique process conditions and performance properties. We feel both honored and excited to open our doors up to an industry leader like DPS and further our mission of positive change across the outdoor industry and beyond. This community is growing rapidly.”
The new bio-based sidewall is currently available in all DPS skis manufactured in Salt Lake City, including its Pagoda Tour, a lightweight touring ski that provides a balance of uphill and downhill performance. The Pagoda Tour also blends a proprietary carbon laminate with ash and paulownia woods and an aerospace-grade foam for a balance of power, energy and dampness.