Category Archives: Technology

Infrared Technology for Waxing Skis and Boards

Update of Green Ice Wax blog. (Using Infrared heat to wax skis and snowboards, 3 October 2016)

Innovation occurs everywhere around us from the release of 5G high speed internet to full electric vehicles. The world is constantly changing. When new technology is released, typically it is not cost effective or widely available. Take electric vehicles for example. Tesla unveiled the Roadster in the late 2000s for a list price in excess of $100,000 with a range of about 285 miles on a single charge. While this was the furthest a fully-electric vehicle could travel on a single charge, it was a 2 seater with a cost-prohibitive asking price that limited the sales. However, as time went on and the production volume increased, Tesla now produces a practical Model 3 sedan starting at $37,000! 

Examples of technological innovations in the ski industry are quite similar and ever-changing. When my son was a young USSA racer, “hot-boxing” was all the rage. This entailed the long process of heating a large oven, heavily waxing the base of the ski, and placing the skis in the oven for an extended period of time. Few technicians had the resources and time to execute the process, making it both cost-prohibitive and a logistical nightmare. Racers’ parents would drive hours to locations with the resources and pay exorbitant (in my opinion) amounts of money to “hot-box” their 10-year-old’s equipment. 

A new technique has now leached over into the ski racing industry, without the cost and overhead associated with traditional application techniques, like a “hot-box” oven. Using technology borrowed from other industrial applications, Infrared (IR) technology allows for the application of wax with a very focused beam of light invisible to the eye. This is the same technology that your conventional remote control uses to change the channel on your TV! The concentrated light raises the temperature of the base under a controlled setting, giving results similar to that of the “hot-box” method. Other benefits include not applying the heat source directly to the base or with varying temperature, as in the case of a typical waxing iron.

Paul O., a ski racer and avid user of GI2000 race wax, visited Hillcrest Ski and Sports in Gresham,OR to wax his race skis.  Hillcrest recently installed a Wintersteiger Infrared (IR) Waxing System. These IR systems are an extremely versatile, easy and cost effective means of applying race wax. Paul observed the process first hand, starting with the inital application of the wax accomplished by rubbing the bar of wax directly on the base. This puts a thin layer of wax on the base with little waste as compared to traditional techniques. 

Next comes the addition of the heat source. The ski base is placed on the waxing system, and the heat source is activated. Once the heat is applied and the base increases in temperature, the base absorbs the GI 2000 in its pores and increases the water-repellency and friction reduction properties of the ski. Once the base cools, the thin layer of wax can be removed using a sharp wax scraper much more easily as compared to waxing with an iron as there is significantly less excess wax.

Paul scraping the base after it cools
Infrared waxing system in action

Green Ice Wax’s observations:

  1. The temperature of the lamp is constant and thus there is no chance to overheat the base or wax
  2. There is no physical contact made during waxing between the heat source and the base
  3. Minimal effort when scraping off excess wax
  4. No fuming of the wax due to overheating

Paul’s observations:

  1. The wax went on really easy and minimal waste.
  2. The wax required little scrapes and only one pass with a rotobrush (brush applied to a drill for ease of use)
  3. The techs have been impressed with how easy the wax is to apply and scrape depsite using a high performance wax (as compared to fluorocarbons)
  4. . The machines are able to be programed to multiple wax applications such as a hot wax (similar to using a hot box)
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Using infrared heat to wax skis and snowboards 

Remember ROYGBIV, the colors of the rainbow? Well, light is composed of electromagnetic radiation having various wavelengths. The red color has the longest wavelength of the visible spectrum (the distance between the peak of one wave to that of the next). There are other types of electromagnetic radiation that we cannot see.  For example, microwave, which has a relatively long wavelength compared to visible light. This radiation is used for cooking, thus the name microwave ovens. Wavelengths in between the red color and microwaves are called infrared. These wavelengths are usually emitted by heat producing objects such as outdoor heat lamps found at bars and restaurants.

Infrared (IR) technology is used in night vision, heating, cooking, wireless communication such as garage door openers and weather forecasting. Recently, doctors have suggested using IR lamps to help alleviate joint pain, muscle strains, skin rashes and other issues relating to eyes, nose, ears and sinuses. “This heat and other light frequencies improve circulation, hydration, oxygenation and often disable or weaken harmful microorganisms.”¹ IR heat penetrates deeply below the skin making it a highly effective technique.

For some time, ski technicians have been investigating and discussing the use of IR heating to apply wax. In fact, Reichmann (manufacturer of tuning and wax equipment) has introduced the Wall Speed system. It is a compact waxing machine which utilizes infrared heaters to insure a gentile but also intensive treatment. They claim the base is able to absorb more wax, which penetrates deeper and therefore increases service life.²

The GI team has investigated using IR heat instead of an iron using the follow method:

Equipment:

 A standard 250 watt reddish heat lamp by FEIT $10-15 and clamp on lamp socket $10 -$20

infrared-bulbinfrared-light

Green Ice Wax GI 2000 warm safe and eco-friendly ski and snowboard wax available at www.greenicewax.com

pink-wax

Standard waxing nylon and horsehair brushes also available at www.greenicewax.com

 nylon-brush

Procedure:

Apply the wax to a previously cleaned ski by rubbing the wax on the base making sure the entire ski wax covered. Remove the excess wax with a soft clean cloth.

Turn on the lamp and allow it to heat up. Hold the lamp approximately 2-3 inches above the wax applied base. Allow the wax to melt and flow. As the wax melts move the lamp down the ski until the whole ski surface was treated.

Allow the wax to harden and cool.

Brush with a nylon and horsehair brush.

Observations:

The temperature of the base did not exceed the melt temperature of the wax. In this case 120°F as measured with an Infrared thermometer.

Some advantages noted were that the base temperature could not overheat as the wax flowed evenly and was allowed to penetrate deeply. The temperature was consistent unlike like that of an iron’s temperature which fluctuates during application. Also since the lamp is held over the base, there is no contact and thus no chance to compromise the base material. The technique is fast as scrapping is not required and is safe because the wax does not fume.

 

This technique is not commonly used yet and is still under investigation as to its performance and durability. However, based on the experience of the GI team, it is worth further investigation and has promise as a clear choice for waxing skis and snowboards in the future. Green Ice Wax is an excellent of wax for infrared application as it has a low melting point and excellent flow characteristics.

See www.greenicewax.com 

 

1. “Single Red Heat Lamp Therapy”, Dr. Lawrence Wilson, Nov 15, LD Wilson Consulting, Inc.

2. Reichmann Ski and Board Tuning. Reichmann’s Wall Speed equipment http://www.reichmann-skiservice .com

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Understanding Base Structure

A very important aspect of a ski/board base is its structure. Recall from , a board or ski does not slide on snow, it rides on water. As the base moves over the snow, the energy from the friction melts the snow. The base then rides over a small pool of water. The water then re-freezes after the base has passed. Therefore just as a car’s tires has threads, a ski or board should have structure to allow the water to flow unrestricted.

Most interesting, not all skis or boards have structure. Usually, a new ski has a structure out of the factory; however as people have their skis tuned, the structure may gradually fade if disregarded. In the back room of a ski shop, tuning machines have the ability to remove and apply structure. To remove structure, skis are driven over a sanding belt. To apply structure they are driven over a stone grinder, which has been cut with a diamond to apply a pattern to the ski.

When an economical tune is applied, a fine sanding belt maybe used as the last step, thus eliminating any structure. A racer or high performance tune is usually finalized with the stone grind, which imbeds a new structure to the ski /board. (See photo).

There are many technicians that believe that the structure is the most important part of the tuning and should not be overlooked. A good structure will not only provide speed but better control. Be sure that your tune up includes a base structure!

Well Structured Base
structured base

Unstructured Base
unstructured base

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Rocker Skis and Boards

As early as 2003, rocker skis and boards were introduced to the ski world. However, this technology is nothing new, as water skis and wake boards have taken advantage of the rocker design for many years. Recently, these skis/boards became increasingly popular. Now what is it that makes a rocker design and why is it effective?

1. Camber

First we must look at the traditional shapes available. Since the parabolic shape has become the standard, consider this ski/board as our basis. To describe rocker, a concept of camber must be understood. The traditional ski has a camber. While laying a ski/board riding side down on a flat surface, it can be seen that the center (under the binding) does not touch the underlying surface. Once pushed downward, the flex allows the board to touch. This upward curvature is called camber. It is the camber, in conjunction with the parabolic shape, which allows the rider to carve turns once on edge.

camber

2. Rocker

The newer design for skis/boards is rocker or reverse camber. Now if we do the same thing as with our traditional ski/boards and lay a rocker flat on the surface, the board will touch the underlying surface in the center. The ski/board will flare up at the tip and/or tail. Ski manufactures have produced many variations of rocker skis. The degree of rocker can be from extreme to moderate.

All skis including camber and rocker produce a rocker shape when pressure is applied while turning on edge. A traditional camber board puts more pressure on the tip and tail in the curve as it must flex in order to turn. A rocker ski/board requires less energy to initiate a turn. With the shape of the ski already in a “flexed” position, the ski engages more quickly and effortlessly.

rocker

By combining these technologies, manufactures have produced skis and boards that fit all types of terrain and riders abilities.

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