Altered Electric Skateboards has launched a Kickstarter campaign for a dual-purpose electric skateboard with custom wheel hubs that were prototyped using the Delta-style 3D printer perched on the chief operating officer's credenza. The Pro-Line V3 Dual Sport (DS) is uniquely modular for either street or all-terrain riding.
COO Taylor Landry intends to use the company's Kickstarter campaign to fund the board's off-road tooling and production minimums to quickly transform the Pro-Line V3 from a street slasher to a dirt carver, and back. But he wouldn't have gotten to this point if not for a 3D printer kit that cost less than $1,000. Indeed, today the wheel hubs on the company's flagship Pro-Line 600 V3 are actually manufactured (not just prototyped) using Landry's 3D printer and a nylon filament that he is currently developing for distribution. And all this started with a curious glance through a window.
Landry, a philosophy major turned entrepreneur, has been in the electric skateboard business for seven years. But he only recently started using 3D printing to make custom wheel hubs. He was introduced to the technology after skateboarding past the storefront window of MatterHackers, a 3D printer and supplies retailer located around the corner from his office in Lake Forest, Calif. He walked into the store, started asking questions and eventually bought his first 3D printer.
Landry immediately became fascinated with the technology. After buying several 3D modeling books, getting involved with online forums and tinkering with various post-production techniques, Landry discovered he could leverage his 3D printer to solve a business problem: he wanted to use ABEC 11 high-performance wheels, but given the size of his electric skateboards, there wasn't a viable way to do it.
Before Landry learned about 3D printing, he and his friend, Chris Chaput, the former downhill skateboarding champion and owner of ABEC 11, jury-rigged a solution by cutting a piece of aluminum plating, welding it to a metal pulley and driving some screws through the wheel hub and into a metal plate. Chaput then modeled a part that could be used to CNC mill an aluminum hub similar to the jury-rigged version and said, "Here, if you can make these then you can sell my wheels on your board," as Landry tells it.
"We said 'great,' so we got quotes for the part, but after crunching the numbers we determined it wasn't economically feasible," explains Landry. "With the expense of tooling and injection molding, and all the testing back and forth, it was going to be a year-long thing, and we didn't even know how many customers would want the upgrade. The ROI just wasn't clear, so we sat on it."
That is, until Landry's 3D printer enabled him to cost-effectively experiment with various prototypes that resulted in the ABEC 11 Drive Hub, which customers may now use to mount an ABEC 11 electric flywheel to the Pro-Line 600 V3 board.
Altered Electric Skateboards primarily sells direct online but also through some retail channels. The reason being, "it's a hard thing to sell without showing somebody," says Landry. "But when someone buys one and gets on the street, suddenly all his neighbors have one."
Editor's note: My neighbors are going to have them too, dear readers, as I'll be backing this little project. I have not been off-roading on the board, but I've taken a turn on the asphalt and it's quite a machine. These boards aren't cheap, but they are built like tanks and they are a blast to ride. One simply stands on the board and pushes a lever on the hand-held remote to start skating at speeds up to 20 mph.