JUC Surf – Surf Coast, VIC

Concerns over wastage of carbon fibre spurred fellow surfers – all Deakin University graduates - to combine their knowledge of composites, electrochemistry and material interfaces to develop a surf board made from recycled carbon fibre.

Named after Jan Juc, a village between Bells Beach and Torquay in Victoria’s surf coast, JUC Surf is the team’s startup vehicle for repurposing high value industrial carbon fibre waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill.

The choice of surf board design and input materials is a complex trade-off between board strength, flexibility (flex) and weight “Carbon fibre surfboards have been done in the past and the criticism is that they’re always too stiff. The techniques and understandings to use carbon fibre aren’t the same as glass. But we have that knowledge base and we’ve brought that to surfing,” said Filip.

Conventional surfboards have a stringer which is a backbone made from wood that controls the flex and rigidity of the board. The JUC Surf board is a “stringerless” construction and uses woven and nonwoven carbon fabrics which compensate for the stiffness characteristics of carbon fibre.

Filip explained that carbon fibre is an inert surface and doesn’t readily bond. “We’ve used our scientific knowledge to promote and complement the carbon interface to its supporting resin. This is something that is overlooked in the surfing industry, particularly with carbon fibres which come with many surface treatments some of which are non-complimentary to resins like polyesters and epoxy. By emphasising the importance of fibre to matrix adhesion, recycled and waste fibres can be used to make great surfboards and solve a waste problem. They ensure that no waste is left behind by taking the carbon fibre in various forms, and creating a specific use for each type. Non-woven chopped carbon fibre is used as the fabric reinforcement, milled carbon fibre is added to the resin to toughen it up, and reclaimed carbon fibre is incorporated in specific spots to strengthen the piece.”

Recycled Carbon Fibre surf  board
L to R. Gabriel Raposo, Filip Stojcevski, James Randall, Catherine Fraser, Andreas Hendlmeier, Jack Buckley, Lucas Rosson

Carbon fibre in fabric form comes in many different filament counts and weaves, not all of which are suitable for surf boards. “Different materials and how they are placed on a board will affect the strength and board shape alters the hydrodynamic function. But when you’re working with recycled materials, the materials may not be perfectly to spec, so we developed a novel solution like a home-made loom to create recycled fabrics that give us the strength properties we needed,” said Filip.

For their core material, the team at JUC Surf chose Kerdyn™ Green, the recyclable thermoplastic PET foam developed by Gurit to meet the growing need for a more sustainable structural core material.

According to Filip, Kerdyn™ has good resin uptake performance with a good balance of mechanical properties, temperature resistance and density. It can also be processed at high temperatures, withstanding high exotherms. JUC Surf is also currently using the accredited bio-based epoxy, AMPRO™ Bio.

According to Filip, the JUC Surf board has a character all its own. It has a high buoyancy line and, being made of carbon fibre, the boards are ‘ding’ resistant.

“After many years of developing, innovating and testing our processes, we were transitioning into the commercialisation phase. Once the ABC aired an interview with us on the 6 pm news during the height of COVID, we went viral and started receiving enquiries and orders from all over the world and we realised we had a business,” said Filip.

True to the tradition of startup pioneers of the surf coast such and Quicksilver and Rip Curl, JUC Surf is building boards from local sheds but hopes to move into more industrial premises as the company grows.