Purchasing a new whip online can sometimes be a bitter-sweet experience. On the one hand, you've got that fresh stick feeling and on the other, you're left with a guilty twang noticing the excess amount of bubble wrap you've just accumulated.
This type of single-use bubble wrap has been a problem in our industry for quite some time. Largely down to there not really being a viable alternative for shapers and distributors to wrap your new prized possession in. And sure, you can keep the wrap for padding out a boardbag when travelling. But, at some stage, it's going to landfill.
Well, now, the genius' at UK-based Boex have come up with a unique, and fully recyclable, way to wrap up your board. Introducing Flexi-Hex; a kind of robust, cardboard board sock. The hexagonal structure running through this design means this invention is tough as all hell and could do away with the need for plastic wrapping. Boards are wrapped in Flexi-Hex, popped in a cardboard box and shipped. Fully recyclable.
I should know, when I headed around to Sam and Will Boex's Porthleven-based studio, they wrapped a board in Flexi-Hex (taking around 2 minutes) and asked me to jump on it. I obliged, and, behold, zero damage. That immediately plucked at my interest.
Over the next few hours, we chatted through Flexi-Hex, its origins and how this could totally revolutionise the surfboard distribution process – and even be a substitute for the travelling surfer when packing boards for a trip. Oh and from now on, all Fourth Surfboards ordered from magicseaweed and Surfdome will come wrapped in Flexi-Hex....
Like the look? You can also buy Flexi-Hex by going HERE.
Talk us through the R&D of Flexi-Hex?
Sam Boex: We have gone through quite a few rounds of testing and prototyping to get the correct weight, strength and flex ratio to enable it to fit most boards. This was also important, we wanted to design one unit that can be fitted and adjusted to fit 95 per cent of the surfboard market from a 5ft fish to 9ft longboard plus snowboard,wakeboard and skate boards.
How long has this been in development?
I've had the idea for about 18 months or so. The idea came from popping into a supermarket and seeing fruit packed in those foam mesh sleeves to protect them from bruising.
After that, I thought; 'there must be a cost effective solution to protect the curved form of a board from damage during shipping and distribution', but constructed from a low impact material, removing the need for bubble wrap.
If it was going to work, we knew we had to keep it simple and easy to use
If it was going to work, we knew we had to keep it simple and easy to use. Once we had prototypes we applied for patent pending on the design and trademark on the name, that has taken awhile. I run an Interior and product design company as a day job, so we have brought the concept into the business to give the time to develop it.
Why did you think it was important to create fully recyclable surf board packaging?
The reasons for developing the product are two-fold. Firstly, an environmental aspect. The industry uses so much bubble wrap which is single use, ending up in landfill. Secondly, is an aesthetic value, I don't know of any other products which retail between £500 - £1,000 which arrive in a secondhand box covered in bubble wrap. I just felt there must be an alternative out there. As a customer, you want to feel reassured your purchase will arrive in one piece.
How durable is it, and how’s it been tested?
We have been working closely with Surfdome to test the packaging through their distribution network, we have also been working closely shapers such as Luke Hart (Fourth Surfoards) and Ben Skinner (Skindog surfboards). They have been trialling the product for the last six months, to further refine and develop the product. We have also done our own testing shipping boards throughout Europe, none of which have been damaged.
None? That's interesting. So, why do you think it is that the industry hasn’t developed tech like this yet?
I think the reason is that shapers, shape boards, they don't have time to think about packaging or the resources but the demand to ship boards has been increasing rapidly for the last few years.
Many retailers still work on a traditional model of customers coming into the shop buying the board and walking out. But in the last couple of years, the retailers who are selling online are seeing increased sales, but only have traditional packaging materials to hand.
Obviously, plastic packaging has been used for years and this is pretty revolutionary in so many ways. It does away with the need for bubble wrap, can people who want to travel buy the Flexi-Hex?
The main market is in surfboard distribution. But yes, we think there is a market for the travelling surfer who needs additional packaging with their board bag or to be used as a cheap alternative to a board bag.
Once you have used it as many times as you can, it can just be put on a compost heap or recycled
The packaging can be used up to four or five times. Being card, it's obviously not water resistant so it will have a limited life span, but once you have used it as many times as you can, it can just be put on a compost heap or recycled.
We also want the packaging to filter direct to consumers just through the movement of the materials within the distribution frame work. We are also working on ideas to evolve the product.
For those unsure, what would you say to them to get them to try Flexi-Hex?
Flexi-Hex is biodegradable, recyclable, quicker to pack boards, reusable and doesn't take up space landfill. As surfers, our playgrounds are slowly filling with plastic, we hope this alone will make people want to at least try alternative solutions to bubble wrap.
Like what you see? More HERE.