Realizing that the production of the space vehicles we loved was generating a great deal of Carbon Fiber waste, Ryan, an engineering student and Greg, an entrepreneurship instructor, set out to create a win/win solution to this problem. We knew we could make something awesome from this amazing aerospace grade material and 121C was founded. The Aileron skateboard became the first product of our upcycling mission. It’s a perfect marriage of technology, environmental benefits and inspired design; Made in the USA.
After investigating the way aerospace firms disposed of excess and scrap carbon fiber (landfills), we determined that if the material was collected, processed and stored properly, it would retain the incredible characteristics of the original material: awesome strength and that gorgeous carbon fiber look. Additionally, it was important to develop a manufacturing process that was less capital and time intensive than the curing methods (ovens and autoclaves) traditionally used by aircraft and spacecraft manufacturers.
We were given the opportunity to test our upcycling protocols and manufacturing processes on a small scale with excess material and scrap generated by the Rocket Propulsion Lab at the University of Southern California. Ryan designed and built a prototype hot press and began to press skate decks. The initial results were flawed but promising. More than a year of work went into perfecting the process and after many iterations, we are proud to present the Aileron, the ultimate cruiser style skateboard. Now that we've established our process, supply chain and manufacturing, we want you to be part of our story. Please help support our solution to this environmental problem by becoming a backer of this project and if you’d like to, reserve your new board!
Other Carbon Fiber decks are either made mostly from wood or fiberglass, with a thin layer or two of carbon and are constructed using lower quality, “wet layup" consumer grade materials. We’ve even seen one made from the sweepings off fibers of a factory floor that has no weave to provide structural integrity. Aileron is in a class by itself being made entirely of top quality military-space grade prepreg carbon fiber requiring a more sophisticated manufacturing process.
Dude! Did DARPA design a skateboard or what? Bill Thomas, FB follower
Your new board will be crafted with the highest quality carbon fiber collected from the production lines that build today’s coolest commercial rockets. When you step onto an Aileron, you’re riding on a spacecraft.
Ryan spent the summer following his freshman year designing, wiring and building a hot press to make a carbon fiber skateboard. Reaching the 121 degrees Celsius required to cure the epoxy was a real challenge. After conquering that temperature threshold, the name 121C just stuck. Since that time almost two years ago, we have upgraded our old wooden hot press to a newer aluminum tool!
Sticking with the aerospace theme, we chose to name our board after the aileron on an airplane. An aileron is the surface on the back of a wing that allows a plane to turn and maneuver.
Much like the aileron that drives the turning of an airplane, our skateboard is made for smooth turns and a fun cruise.
Excellence in product quality is a core principle at 121C. When we discovered that the space and military grade material we are upcycling is so sophisticated that its uncured export is restricted, we were actually pretty excited. We have to make our decks in the USA and competitors simply can’t offshore this stuff in order to save money by polluting the environment or exploiting offshore workers in China or elsewhere. We strive to source all our major components from American manufacturers.
In fact, as is fitting to the origin of skate, all these items come from Southern California. Our decks are pressed by Akra Plastics in Ontario. We finish them off with Randal trucks, cast in South Gate, and Fireball wheels, poured in Lake Elsinore. Shark Wheels are also made in California.
Each skateboard is made from pure carbon fiber and the stealth design reflects that. The board is light, strong and frankly it’s pretty badass. With due respect, we have intentionally chosen to avoid traditional skate graphics. Instead we’ve boldly gone where no board has gone before with a sharp, clean, engineering inspired look that embraces the origins of our material.
Make sure to let us know which graphic you want on your pure carbon Aileron in the rewards section.
Since signing our first collection contract, top quality carbon fiber is beginning to accumulate and we need your support to scale our manufacturing. The $10,000 we are asking for will expand our production capacity. This includes capital investment in our processing systems as well as the labor, storage and logistics required for our unique upcycling protocol. We have created some awesome rewards to thank our supporters at all levels. Check them out!
Our 50-50 Cotton Polyester stealth black t-shirt is made in the USA has the 121C pure carbon logo on the front and our stealth logo on the back.
We've taken our logo, most prominently displayed on our grip tape, and turned it into a glider. Everything on the glider is made from pure carbon, with the exception of the 3D printed nosecone, and this thing actually files! (NOT A TOY for children)
The Aileron has been engineered with a wheel to wheel camber making the board incredibly responsive and perfect for pumping through turns. Using only carbon fiber the board is less than half the thickness of an equivalent wood deck and much much lighter. The Aileron deck is available in two sets of graphics, “Technical Hexagon” or “Space Inspired.”
You can get a deck alone or complete with Randal 150 Trucks and either Fireball or Shark Wheels. You can have any color you want as long as it’s black.
If you would like to get more technical on your own built out board or create your own style, here are the links to our awesome suppliers:
Randal 150mm Trucks http://randal.com/150mm-50-black/
Fireball Incendos http://fireballwheels.com/incendo-black-70mm-87a.html
Shark Wheel Makos http://shop.sharkwheelskate.com/products/mako-formula-70mm-80a
The flex allows me to pop in and out of turns, the Aileron is sick . Stefan Raghavan, Surfer
I borrowed the Aileron for a day and flew around campus. Everyone stopped to ask about it. It's truly a fantastic conversation piece! Brandon Edelson, Aerospace Engineer
Finally, I'm riding a board that doesn't make me look like a kid. Brian Bishop, Senior Software Engineer
The ride is as sharp and responsive as it looks. Kristjan Salasoo, USC Student
Development for the Aileron has been a long and arduous journey. Now we are bringing our dream to reality and are excited for you to be a part of our story. With your support we will be able to execute on our development schedule and able to ship you a board from our first production round of Ailerons by September
Founder: Ryan Olliges is an aerospace engineering student at the Viterbi School of Engineering at the University of Southern California. He has been a member of the Rocket Lab since his freshman year and is now the lab’s Lead Composite Engineer and CFO. Ryan’s environmental interest inspired his Eagle Scout project which established a rain garden that utilized filtered runoff water from the public works building in Lake Stevens, Washington.
Co-Founder: Greg Autry, MBA, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship with the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Marshall School of Business, USC. His research context is the emerging New Space industry. Greg is a serial entrepreneur and is active in supporting American manufacturing.
Industry Expert and Spokesperson: Michael López-Alegría is a former Naval aviator and one of America’s most experienced astronauts. He flew on Space Shuttle missions STS-73, STS-92, and STS-113, as well as on the Russian Soyuz TMA-9. Mike also served as International Space Station commander. He holds several NASA records including longest spaceflight (215 days), most Extravehicular Activities (EVA) or “space walks” (10) and cumulative EVA time (67 hours 40 minutes). He formerly served as President of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. As a product spokesperson and industry liaison, Mike’s achievements inspire the whole 121C team to reach for the stars.
Risks and challenges
Leveraging some fantastic support from space and skate industry partners along with resources provided by the incredible USC network, we’ve minimized the risk and challenges for this venture. Our product was designed and positioned during a diligent process of customer discovery and the skate deck design has been iteratively improved with constant real world product testing and rider feedback. We are now ready to take on large-scale production.
Every new process faces challenges. No one has ever made a skateboard that looks like the Aileron and there are no carbon fiber boards being produced in the volumes we are proposing. 121C has taken a bold step forward in technology and in style. We have already collected more than half a ton of carbon fiber, which we are processing into skateboard blanks. Our team has carefully developed the technology, business model and relationships, but the proof will be in mass manufacturing and in your response. We are looking forward to hearing from the Kickstarter community!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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