Making the Leap
We had just fallen flat on our faces and had probably just pulled the most rookie move in the industry. But one of us had just discovered this non-Newtonian material in class — this soft gooey substance that gets rock hard when you hit it.
Very strange stuff. But also very cool stuff.
The non-newtonain Polymer dripping from a ski.
When we began examining the detailed data on this substance, we could barely sit still. If what we saw in the data sheets turned out to be correct, this would change everything. Literally.
Next step? Find a supplier willing to give six college geeks some of this stuff to inject into a ski.
Needless to say, we didn’t fare too well. Responses ranged from “You want to put it inside a ski?” and “That’s impossible” to “How old are you, anyhow?”
After all, every other company in the world had only applied this non-Newtonian material to the outside of a product. Just glued it on and called it a day.
Us, we were different. We wanted to mill channels into a wood core, sand it down to shape, put it in a mold, cover it in epoxy and fiberglass and smash it together at 200 psi and 185 degrees. No wonder they thought we were crazy.
Finally, one supplier bit.
Time to make some samples. We mocked up some miniature skis to replicate the construction of a full-sized ski and sent it to our friend Tyler, who was working on his PhD in vibration mechanics. Exactly the guy who knew what to do with it.
The first ski sample ever made with a non-Newtonain Polymer.
And we waited. And waited.
Three months later, Tyler sent an email.
Subject line: “THIS DATA IS F%*!*#@! AWESOME!!!!!!” Seriously. That’s what it said.
We opened up the email and read more good news from Tyler. It was wild. We called up Tyler, who explained that his tests showed the skis becoming 300 percent more “damp.” Dampness, he explained, “is the foundation for a stable and controlled product.”
The data Tyler sent us that day.
In layman’s terms, that meant we could make a ski that could adapt to feel rock-solid when necessary, without adding a gram to the total weight.
That winter, we built full-sized skis and tested.
Sure enough, our skis, with just 15 percent of this non-Newtonian material, could act insanely stable at speeds and soak up the crud at a rate usually reserved for the heaviest of race skis.
We had something. We knew it.
We decided to call this non-Newtonian material “Hyper Damping Technology” (HDT) for its ability to mute a normally jittery and bumpy ride.
We were out of money (again) that spring. But this time, we knew we had the ticket to separate us from every other company out there.
We all hit the summer job circuit hard and worked our butts off. This isn’t a company funded by Uncle Jonny. We had work to do.
Later that summer, we made a decision that would prove to be the one that saved us from complete annihilation.
End of Part 2 of 4
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