Research helps Canadian companies take risks

Research helps Canadian companies take risks

A Vancouver company is the world’s leading longboard manufacturer and just one of many enterprises that have turned to labs at Emily Carr University of Art + Design to make their products better
November 17, 2014

When Vancouver-based Rayne Longboards wanted to build better skateboard accessories, they turned to the 3-D printing studios at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. In just one week, they were able to design, 3-D print, cast and road-test new high-performance skateboard wheels that are easier to customize and are dramatically less expensive to tool than most other wheels on the market.

“As a company, we’re always obsessed with ‘How is this different? How is this better?’” says Graham Buksa, Rayne’s founder and CEO. “We try to be innovative, finding new ways to save here and there while still making something that is different and better than the rest.”

WATCH: Rayne Longboards in action

Rayne is already the world’s leading longboard manufacturer.  Although the design of the company’s boards is considered high-tech, Buksa says the wheels are “the same as most others” since there are only a couple of skateboard wheel manufacturers in the world.

Buksa set out to seize the opportunity to gain a competitive edge by making superior wheels. He saw 3-D printing as an ideal way to test new ideas since it would allow him to tweak the design on the fly and avoid spending the tens of thousands of dollars that traditional manufacturing would cost to create new moulds for each new design.

The Prototyping, Media, and Programming Studio at Emily Carr offered the 3-D printing equipment and expertise Buksa needed, and he and the research team were able to develop a proof-of-concept for an enhanced skateboard wheel in just a few days — and for only a few hundred dollars. Buksa says he expects to explore options for manufacturing and marketing the new wheels over the next couple of years.

Rayne is one of about 60 Vancouver-based businesses — ranging from medical device manufacturers to app developers — that have been able to quickly improve their products in the university’s labs.