Design News '"The idea of offering customized surfboards to the average surfer created a massive bottleneck in the business with CAD developers," says Mark Price, CEO of Firewire Surfboards. "We couldn't afford enough CAD guys to build the custom files."' by Beth Stackpole
'Enter Pettibone, an engineer with a background in designing custom golf clubs. Tapping his acumen around pushing 3-D CAD to tackle complex surface shapes, and his knowledge and interest in surfing, Pettibone began developing highly parametric and flexible models of Firewire's base surfboard models in Siemens PLM Software's NX - a challenge in its own right. Typically, much custom finishing of high-end board design is handled by seasoned craftsman who painstakingly detail each unit by hand. "Surfboards have long, flowing curves that are not that easy to subtly model in a CAD system," Pettibone explains. "You have to build fairly complex models - almost like a mini-sculpture."
'Unlike other online configure-to-order systems, which allow users to tailor cars or sneakers, Firewire's CBD is a true engineer-to-order system that works on live 3-D models over the Web. "You can go on a Nike site and design your own shoes, but what you're doing is replacing colors and trim on an existing shape - you can't have the width changed to fit your foot," Pettibone explains.'