Airush Ultra Team Samuel Tome Gijs Wassenaar 20220204 STP20117 1200x800 - A Material World

A Material World

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The kite materials revolution is well and truly upon us. We thought it an interesting idea to round up some of the most active brands in the light materials world, and ask them a few awkward questions to try and achieve a broader picture of where this is leading for design and manufacturing industry wide. Ocean Rodeo, Airush, CORE, Duotone and Eleveight give us their honest insights…

THEKITEMAG ISSUE #49
PHOTOS: Amanda Beenen Cantor, Julieta Pereyra, MD Markgraaff, Samuel Tomé and Thomas Burblies

Which ‘new’ materials can we find within your kite range?

Duotone: For the last few years, we’ve been progressing with different kite materials. Everything has really started with lighter materials like Penta TX, and today we have a range of three segments: Originals, SLS and D/LAB. The Original features standard materials, SLS uses Penta TX, and D/LAB uses ALUULA material. The journey is all about creating products with better flying ability, especially in reducing the overall weight of the kite, which of course helps to increase the lightwind abilities. A big step in this direction were the SLS models with Penta TX, and ultimately progressing to the D/LAB models with ALUULA, currently the lightest inflatable material on the market. The Juice D/LAB, which is built with ALUULA, is the benchmark in lightwind kiting, especially in twintip riding. The development process started years ago, but now is finally in full swing.

Airush: The key one for us over the last year, is the Ho’okipa leading edge fabric. This concept has been in development in some form for the last six years and it has been really exciting to get our Team Series Kites to the next level. We have always been focused on chasing light weight and durability through innovations such as the load frame, and this is the next big step for us. Looking at the journey through development into production, a key point that many people do not see, is the timelines required to develop these materials – we need at least 18 months to bring any single material formulation from concept, through to testing, into limited production, then full production.

Our original belief was that the current Dacron material (Woven polyester) was on its engineering limit and we wanted to be able to builds kites that were more durable than existing ones, lighter weight and could run at higher pressures. The real limitation is the polyester fibers, although these are a very proven technology and widely used, we knew we would need to move to more exotic fibers to progress. We believed the best substitute was some form of Ultra PE (UHMWPE) as this has key mechanical advantage over polyester, is UV stable and still relatively affordable. This is the base material we use in our load frame and is widely used in flying lines.

We started with a company called Dyneema Corp as they had continued the development of a laminate that was originally Cuben Fiber; it had been used in some early kites, although there had been challenges with the original fabric. We considered that through the ongoing development, these issues may have been addressed. However, we ran into two challenges, to do with seam construction, consistency of fiber within the laminate, and with shrinkage.  We then moved to an alternate laminate supplier that had been doing more work within the kite arena, and while this was in long-term development, we continued our research into development options and started working more closely with Challenge Sailcloth. 

This was a critical point, as there had always been reservations within our design and manufacture team about using a primarily laminated fabric, but lightweight woven composites did not really exist in commercial applications. Challenge Sailcloth were the first supplier we had found who were able to develop woven composite that was considerably lighter than Dacron in a commercial application. They also had a lot of experience of fine-tuning the fabric formulation as they have worked with key companies in the kite industry and were open to the constant improvement required to really innovate. 

Ocean Rodeo: We’ve been tinkering on a list of composites for about five years, and will feature the following new ALUULA Composites in our 2023 products alongside ALUULA Gold. Firstly, ALUULA Graflyte for kite struts and wing air frames, which is very light and strong, has responsive flex, and is ideal for air frame sections where we want more flexibility. Secondly, ALUULA Graflyte X for leading edge sections that need less flex. It is similar to the Graflyte but with more stiffness. Thirdly, ALUULA Aeris X, an extremely tear-resistant canopy for wings which will be made in several weights and variations. 

Lastly, we will have ALUULA Atom, a new bladder film and bladder design. The new bladders are half the weight of traditional PU bladder films and three times more resistant to UV. UV can get through some of the new ultra-light composite air frames so bladders also need protection. The Atom bladders are flex rated – an industry first – and work in harmony with the airframe design. Stiffness of the strut is increased by 55% when inflated to the recommended PSI. Incidentally all of these new composites are recyclable.

ALUULA works closely with several leading brands to test the new composites, which are produced in Victoria, BC, Canada. We expect these new composites will eventually be used by other high-performance brands.

CORE: All our recent models come with the new CoreTex 2 and ExoTex 2 materials, both exclusively developed for CORE in Japan and Taiwan. CoreTex 2, our latest canopy cloth, is not only lighter than its predecessor but also comes with massively improved stiffness, and durability. A new coating process aids stability in higher winds and jumps. CoreTex 2.0 sets the standard in breaking strength, tear resistance, longevity, UV protection, and elongation. We’re also proud to have recently released our brand new ExoTex 2 leading edge that’ s stiffer, lighter and yet also 80% more tear resistant. ExoTex 2 is a considered and progressive evolution of polyester weaves through both the warp and weft. Through every inch of our air frames you’ll find the use of ultra-strong yarns, and the entire structure is now stiffer, more tightly woven and then finally treated with a unique heating and shrinking process.

Eleveight: At Eleveight we have a development process that’s very driven by performance and technology. We are constantly testing new materials, and in the last few years one of our main focuses has been the development of a new material for the inflatable structure. Our driving force behind the development is kite designer and founder, Peter Stiewe. With over 20 years of experience, Peter has extensive knowledge about different materials and the related performance outcome. Utilizing his experience, we introduced our XT Light fabric into our foil/freeride kite, the OS. The performance outcome for the product was great and yet we keep researching for further enhanced alternatives for future editions. 

Unfortunately, the pandemic caused some delays in the ability to conduct research, which also changed the timeline of new developments. However, this year we managed to introduce a new material into our RS+ kite: Dynea Tex, which is a highly specialized fabric engineered using Dyneema fibers which we use for the leading edge on the RS+ model. Dynea Tex is 30% lighter and stronger than normal inflatable materials, but more importantly, it has an increase in flying performance. The RS+ is lighter in weight, more dynamic and extremely responsive. Dynea Tex is an exclusive development for Eleveight and we work in close conjunction with our new supplier in Asia to reach the best performance outcome.

What challenges have you had in incorporating these materials into your existing kite designs? How much does manufacturing have to change?

Airush: You need to look at the mechanical properties of the new material and how these may vary from current materials once assembled, during typical use and over extended use. For example, Ho’okipa has very low warp and fill stretch (length and width) but the material has more crimp (lower initial tension) so once pressurized it reacts differently to Dacron. This needs to be accounted for in the design.

CORE: Stiffer materials required major changes in a kite’s design, since they have a significant impact on its characteristics. Obviously the overall target is to elicit more performance with a new canopy or Dacron, but especially when it comes as an update to an existing model, it’s equally important to maintain the major flight characteristics the model is renowned for. On the other hand on the pure performance side is the aspect of comfort, which is also a major topic for a lot of non-pro riders. A stiffer airframe for example leads to a more direct transmission of gusts, which can easily make the kite be considered as too harsh. 

Duotone: It’s a very challenging process to implement new materials into the kite design, but also on the manufacturing side. All these materials have very different properties compared to the standard materials we’ve been using for over 20 years in the industry, so we had to come up with new manufacturing technologies and learn how to properly place and use the new materials to being able to change the overall flight properties the way we would want.  

Eleveight: Dynea Tex is a special woven material that uses Dyneema fibers as a core component. The challenging part was testing in different environments and finding the optimum balance between twist, responsiveness and long-term performance. The DNA of the RS, our best-selling freeride kite, was the perfect platform for the new material. We tried different specifications such as building the whole inflatable structure with Dynea Tex or only some parts on the leading edge. In the end, we used a material mix between Dynea Tex for the leading edge and XT Light for the struts. On the manufacturing side, the implementation was not too complicated as Dynea Tex is a tightly woven material. We also have a great long-term working relationship with our leading kite manufacturer which helps implement development immensely. Their team understand our needs and they apply the right changes to ensure an outcome of high quality.

Ocean Rodeo: We have developed many new seam technologies, cutting and manufacturing processes. Making super lightweight, strong material is one challenge, however how to work with them is another mystery to solve! These composites must be handled more carefully in production and tolerances must be exact. Any section of a kite assembled out of balance is more noticeable, so we have spent countless hours working with these materials and testing them in the water before finalizing the magic formula. 

Has the shortfall in availability of raw materials during the pandemic led you to explore different options for supply?

Ocean Rodeo: Yes, canopy being a big one. The shortage of traditional canopy forced us to accelerate the ALUULA canopy program. So it has worked in our favor in some respects as we’re now ready to release what we think will be the next ‘jaw dropping’ innovation after our initial ALUULA launch in 2019.

Airush: We have been very lucky to have strong supply partners and were able to meet most of our production demand, with delay, mainly over moving raw materials around. There were extensive challenges around shipping finished goods to the market.

CORE: We are lucky that we maintain long-term collaborations with most of our partners. That, in combination with our two-year product cycle and the long-term planning in our procurement department, left us in a position to produce and deliver almost throughout the whole pandemic. Other than that, of course we are always on the lookout for suppliers and materials.

Duotone: It’s always a tricky part, because if you’re creating models dedicated to certain materials, you’re not able to change the material at the drop of a hat. As mentioned, these materials vary a lot, so have big impacts on the flight characteristics. We have been more or less lucky during the pandemic to always get a decent amount of supply; we had shortages, but could work around them quite smoothly. Still, it did cause some delays, along with transport problems.

Eleveight: Not really for us. Our R&D team is constantly testing new materials from different suppliers. But yes, the high demand for raw materials had an impact on our risk management and how we order. Nowadays, it’s meant our timelines and the related order process has been moved forward much earlier.

What are the most tangible advantages of the new materials for the kites’ performance which the average user will immediately notice?

Eleveight: I agree that the hot topic is weight reduction. New materials are lighter and will decrease the overall weight of kites. This parameter has a great impact in low wind conditions and is easily noticeable to the rider. But we also talk too much about weight; more important is the performance impact on the overall stability. For example, the RS+ with Dynea Tex is stiffer and has less deformation and faster rebound, and as a result is more responsive. For the rider the kite feels more dynamic, it reacts quicker and can handle higher winds better.

Airush: I would say the key areas would be weight, stiffness and the ability to run higher pressures, all of which results in improved stability and responsiveness.

CORE: For sure the most immediate point of note is the reduced weight, which is beneficial for any model’s lightwind performance. The increased stiffness leads to a more powerful character, which comes with improved overall control thanks to the more direct steering. Especially important to us is the rigidity and longevity that any new material must come with, leading to a product that can withstand more sessions and therefore a longer kite-life.

Duotone: When it comes to D/LAB, the first very noticeable point is that the lightwind abilities are insane in comparison to a standard product, because of the weight reduction. In the smaller sizes you will notice that the kite feels extremely smooth, very direct and very intuitive. The flying characteristics, especially in terms of going upwind, are unmatched within the range. The drifting ability of the Neo also benefits from it, so if you have some experience in kiting and you try a D/LAB model, you’ll immediately

feel the difference, and we’re also quite sure you’ll be hooked on the overall performance you will experience.

Ocean Rodeo: Users will notice the incredible low weight of our kites with next-level flying performance in all winds, and especially light wind. Ocean Rodeo / ALUULA three-strut kites are the same weight or less than many one-strut kites, and will soon be lighter than no-strut kites. Even at these low weights the air frames are more responsive and also better in over-powered conditions. If you’ve never flown an ALUULA air framed kite, prepare to be wowed! There also has quicker relaunch and minimal water absorption. Plus the new kites are easier to repair, especially the new Graflyte, and of course the lower weight also means lighter luggage when traveling…

Does a lighter or stiffer kite make much difference to a ‘regular’ kiter in stronger winds, or is a bit of weight and flex sometimes an advantage?

CORE: Particularly in the smaller sizes, the extreme stiffness is not necessarily beneficial, since a certain flex is mandatory to absorb the stronger gusts and maintain a dynamic steering. At the same time, the reduced diameter of front tube and struts in smaller sizes comes with more stiffness by default. The same counts for the weight-similar sizes, where less is not necessarily better, since it can make the kite more twitchy and ‘nervous’. As in most development topics, it is about the careful tuning of all those different parameters, which comes with a lot of prototyping and time testing on the water.

Airush: I don’t think there is an instance where a heavier kite is better, or a more flexible leading edge is going to benefit the rider. However leading edges do need to twist in order to optimize the steering of the kite. One of the key benefits of the Ho’okipa material is that it is significantly stiffer and stronger in the hoop of the leading edge, which allows greater inflation pressure, and also along the length of the leading edge which creates a more stable arc. At the same time it has similar bias torsional flex to Dacron, so the kites can twist and steer. A composite that is primarily a laminate is more challenging in that respect.

Duotone: Let’s put it this way, the advantages of a Juice D/LAB come to shine in light wind, and a Neo D/LAB makes absolute sense in smaller sizes, so you can use the smallest kite possible, and purely focus on the joy of riding waves. At a recent shoot James, Matchu and Airton showed what’s possible – for hours they were the only ones out on glassy waves and barely any wind, yet could still go upwind and smack waves.

Eleveight: In stronger winds, the weight reduction is less relevant, but the lower material elongation in a stiffer kite has the benefit of better control and performance in the upper wind range.

Ocean Rodeo: The received wisdom is that a lighter kite is also better in light winds, but very early on with ALUULA we realized that a lighter and stiffer kite is also better in strong winds. We have found the top end of our kites has been significantly extended, mainly as the kite does not distort in gusts so will still ride very smoothly even when fully depowered and when you are stacked.

Do you think new materials have been overhyped and are a marketing exercise to some extent?

Airush: That depends on the material and the brand. There is a huge amount of ‘tech washing’ in the industry. Very typically, brands will take an existing off-the-shelf Dacron or canopy material, or make some minor adjustment in formulation, come up with some techy name, and shroud it in jargon to unsuspecting customers. This really undermines the value that long-term innovation brings to the customer as it reduces the value of real innovation. But there are some clear steps forwards and some real incremental gains that have substance that a few key brands have done.

CORE: It is easy to understand that using the latest high-tech material does not automatically lead to a high-end product. For sure a reduced weight can make a product superior in light winds, but generally we would agree that the ‘common’ materials for sure aren’t yet out of date.

Ocean Rodeo: Let’s put this into context… We built our first kite in 2002: the Ocean Rodeo Bronco. It used Dacron (168gsm) on the air frame, polyester ripstop for the canopy (56gsm) and PU bladders (80micron/98gsm). A 10m Bronco weighed about 8lbs. In 2020, the entire kite industry was still using the exact same materials, so… 18 years later there was still no material development, no break away from Dacron, polyester ripstop and PU bladders. ALUULA comes along in 2019/2020 and cuts a kite weight from 8lbs to 4lbs in just one year! We would say: fly a kite that is half the weight of what you’re used to, and you’ll see that it is a different world when it comes to performance. So, yes, there is substance to the new materials!

Duotone: Well, we have to answer this question in a bit of a different way. Due to the new materials, we have been progressing with our overall understanding of how to develop a kite, which allows us to also improve the flight characteristics of the original kites. The best example is the Evo, which is we think really unmatched amongst all-round kites when it comes to that particular price tag. It is a learning curve we have been going through to understand what the new materials are really capable of. Now the next generation of D/LABs, the Neo D/LAB and Evo D/LAB, is really something special. As mentioned, if you have some experience in flying a kite, simply try a D/LAB kite and no more words are needed!

Eleveight: If we consider the performance results of new materials we can clearly say that they are not overhyped. On a larger scale, the material used will also have a great impact on overall kite design. A lot of small incremental changes are necessary with the implementation of new materials. As a result, our new RS+ is by far our most innovative kite yet. But yes, we have to put it in perspective. Modern kites made using Dacron have outstanding performance and the improvements of Dyneema fibers come with a cost. The cost of these new materials is very high. Everyone needs to evaluate for themselves if the performance benefits outweigh the extra costs.

How will the new materials you’ve implemented affect the cost of the final product?

Airush: Ho’okipa is around eight times more expensive and adds around 30 to 50% to the final kite price. The Ultra PE Load Frame adds around 10% to the kite.

CORE: Since we, so far, have still built on the durability and longevity of our well known materials, we were able to maintain our price levels.

Duotone: Unfortunately these materials are more expensive, and we do know this is a big challenge, because we have to ensure that the prices are accessible to the entire market. Trying the entire range at a Duotone demo event is key for you to decide in which direction you want to go and whether it’s worth spending more money on a kite.

Eleveight: New materials like our Dynea Tex are much more sophisticated in the production process and are therefore more expensive. We at Eleveight try to keep this price level as reasonable as possible. But a high-end product also has a higher price – we try to give the customer a choice. With our Plus line, you can purchase the state-of-the-art gear, but you also have the option to choose the normal range which already performs fantastically.

Ocean Rodeo: These composite materials use space-age ingredients produced in smaller batches and therefore cost more to produce. The end price is higher primarily due to this. We are very conscious of this though, and are improving methods to assemble kites using the new materials, so we hope that labor may come back down closer to the assembly cost using traditional materials and this will translate into a cheaper product.

How do you go about durability testing? Have there been some pop and bangs along the way?

CORE: This is a very crucial point. CORE is not only known for its high performance, but also for its quality. That’s why we are very strict when it comes to the introduction of new materials without long-term testing, not only within our team, but also under the more demanding circumstances in schools and similar. Usually a lightweight build is more fragile than the standard version, but we still insist on applying the same testing standards before a new material is approved for mass production. 

Duotone: Oh yes, especially in the beginning with ALUULA there were about two years of unexpected explosions, deformed bladders and so on. We implemented new ways of producing, new ways of sewing, and spent endless hours testing and developing. Now we understand how to get the most out of the materials without making sacrifices on durability. 

Eleveight: I think pop and bangs are fairly normal but they decrease with experience over the years!. Peter Stiewe has had his fair share of testing different materials over the last 20 years including working with Dyneema materials. His knowledge was crucial to the new development, and so far we’ve had smooth sailing with the implementation of the Dynea Tex. 

Airush: We do a range of inflation tests (taking leading edges up to 40 PSI is interesting…), so you get some very big bangs and we also do “testing to destruction” with our test teams and key schools. We would also simply crash the kite into the beach over and over again – it was pretty mind blowing what you can actually do to a 2.5kg kite.

Ocean Rodeo: We do like to blow up struts until they fail… that’s about as exciting as it gets! ALUULA now has an extensive lab run by a team of chemists, mech engineers and materials scientists. We have a separate R&D ALUULA manufacturing machine so it’s fast and efficient for us refine and improve the composites quickly. UV, seams, tensile, warp, weft, bias, peel, puncture, hot, cold, tear, abrasion, on and on are first tested mechanically and analyzed in the lab. Once a composite shows promise, we move into outdoor testing with proto kites. We’ll keep these in use locally and around the world as long as possible for evaluation. Our favorite location for testing is Tarifa, Spain where we insert kites into schools – it’s the ultimate in long term abuse. Also our pro riders are critical to new materials testing.

There seems to be plenty of development for alternatives to Dacron, but not so much hype about canopy materials. Has your team investigated this avenue?

Eleveight: The ripstop X4 that we currently use is very sophisticated and the stiffest canopy on the market. It has fantastic durability; nevertheless, we are always testing new canopy options with different specifications. Lighter material is an option, but weight is not the most important key parameter for a canopy. New material also has to be significantly better in performance and durability. But as we say: Development Never Stops!

Airush: We settled on the load frame early and this reduces the stress on the canopy and creates a stiffer response; our next focus had been on the heavier part of the kite which was the leading edge and struts. Keep in mind the canopy is 50gsm. So the canopy on an 8m kite is 400g and the Dacron and bladders will be the other 80%. So there are more gains to be made in the Dacron area. We have done development with laminated Dyneema canopies but the material tended to shrink in the trailing edge and change shape. And the cost implications were pretty enormous at the time.

Ocean Rodeo: ALUULA Canopy starts this year on our wings, using Aeris X 42gsm (vs standard ripstop at 55gsm). Aeris X is light, but most importantly is very resistant to tearing, a key factor when wings make contact with hydrofoils. For kites we hope it will come soon…

CORE: There are some things happening, even though the impact in terms of actual figures might not be as impressive as for the leading edge materials. From our point of view, so far polyester canopy is still state-of-the-art, but thanks to new coatings and production processes there are still improvements possible.

Duotone: We do a lot of investigating and developing on the canopy material as well, but it’s too early to talk about it yet.

Can you give us a heads up on anything you are working on at the moment?!

CORE: There is a lot of effort put into the extensive testing of materials. We’ve been building prototypes in ALUULA, Ho’okipa and others for more than three years, but our main priority is to maintain the character of our products and continuously improve them. Once we’ve found that one of the materials can contribute to that character without downgrading any other aspect, you’ll be the first to hear!

Duotone: To work with all the new materials, we’re looking at new manufacturing techniques – this is going to be the next big step in kite and wing development. With the Juice D/LAB we will push the sport even further in terms of material combinations, making it even lighter. Next year we will have a Juice D/LAB in size 17 which is performing insanely well in the tests, another game changer for the industry because it allows every kite school in the world to teach in the lightest wind conditions imaginable, making the sport more accessible. We think this is a huge achievement.

Ocean Rodeo: Recyclability… Turning ALUULA scrap and end-of-life products into ALUULA Fiber board. ALUULA is all in on this, and I think most brands using ALUULA are as well. We are making hard decisions every day to limit input ingredients so they can be recycled. We could shave a few more grams off our materials by using mixed polymers, however this would render the finished composite non-recyclable.

Can you envisage the implementation of these new materials changing aspects of what’s possible with both kite design and performance in the long term?

Airush: Yes, already the Ho’okipa has allowed us to run a thinner leading edge on the Ultra Team as we have been able to run 50% higher pressure. It also allows us to consider options where we simply have a stiffer leading edge, which limits the demands on the bridles for keeping the leading edge shape. These along with other areas such as weight saving will have a big impact on kite design in the future.

CORE: It’s hard to give an easy answer to that question. Yes, a stiffer Dacron can lead to reduced diameters, but this comes along with a bunch of other problems you might not have foreseen. Ultimately it’s about finding a new balance of what the new materials are able to offer and what the kite’s design is capable of.

Duotone: If you change one thing, you also have to change other variables, but this is a great opportunity to create new things. The sport has progressed quite a lot in the last few years and we do not see this coming to an end. In fact it’s the opposite – development will accelerate and lead us to exciting new products in the future.

Ocean Rodeo: Inflation PSI and tube diameter still trumps material stiffness and very small tube diameters, however the new composites have allowed us to slim down the diameters. When Ross Harrington designs a kite or wing, he uses the right tube diameter and bridles for the desired performance. So we play with air frame diameter, material properties and bridles and our focus is always on improving performance.

Eleveight: A change of material requires a new design. All parameters need to be adjusted to the material properly which requires its own development process. Each product has to be finetuned with the specific use of each material, to hone our designs towards the performance goal, be it for Big Air, waves, foiling or freeride.

How do you see the new materials changing the long-term landscape of your product range? Will you still continue to offer traditional Dacron/ripstop models?

Ocean Rodeo: Dacron and ripstop still have their place as they are more economical than composites, and they are time-tested and proven. Just like bike frames, you may not need full carbon. Steel-framed bikes still work and will get you around. Ocean Rodeo still has a full kite made with Dacron and polyester: the React.

Airush: We have always worked with two key focuses: one is to develop the absolutely highest performing products on the market with our Team series and the other has been developing our original lines to offer incredible performance and quality materials at the most accessible price possible.  We will continue on this path. We will continue to offer and push the development of Dacron/polyester kites, they offer the best price-to-performance ratio on the market and this appeals to most customers.

CORE: From today’s perspective, that’s definitely a yes. Those materials have been proven over more than a decade and still offer a highly attractive price/performance ratio. Even though new materials might be able to exhaust the utmost performance peaks, that usually comes with a cost, which not every customer is willing to pay.

Eleveight: The current development offers customers more choices. We’ve already seen this development in boards and now we have introduced the same concept in our kite and wing range. The product range should offer each customer the right product, and new materials will help to develop models for the right target group. Traditional materials will remain in the industry. For the vast majority of kite models, they still offer the best performance-to-value ratio for the customer.  

Where do you see the future path of materials and manufacturing going in the long term?

CORE: Hopefully the ongoing developments contribute to an improved experience on the water which still stays affordable!

Duotone: In the future we will have a triangle of material, designer, and suppliers and manufacturers, in a different way to the past. If you want to be innovative, if you want to be a leader in the industry, you have to form an alliance with those players. If you don’t do it, then we are absolutely convinced innovation will not be possible. This is pretty much what we’re aiming for already; the structure is already set to be in a position to change and create the products of the future.

Eleveight: In the beginning of the sport, we did not have specific material developments within our industry. Nowadays raw material suppliers are working with us to develop specific materials and improve existing ones. It can be the use of new fiber, or a new coating and finishing process of the raw materials. This will continue and further improve the materials we are using and so allow product improvements with specialized and the most suitable materials for our requirements.

Ocean Rodeo: Traditional manufacturers of Dacron, ripstop etc are responding to ALUULA. They are now putting in a proper effort to improve their offerings vs what’s been available for the last 20 years. Exotic materials will continue to emerge, as will improved, cost-effective materials. This new competition will only be good for the consumer!

Airush: Along with the focus on high-end innovation, it would also be great to see development that is able to reduce costs to customers, although general reliability continues to improve on kites and as the designs get more refined total cost ownership will be less. Essentially, we see most products being more composite in nature as we place more demands on materials, push to reduce weight and increase strength. There is also a much more integrated digital process in development with almost every component being designed in specific software and prototyped with laser cutters, CNC machine and 3D printers. This translates more directly into manufacture so we will be able to develop more refined products through faster design iteration, and take these to mass production more quickly. There is a classic line of lighter, faster, stronger and this actually does hold true. Essentially everything is just going to continue to become easier to use, more intuitive and more fun. The future is bright!

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