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The 'World's First' 3-D Printed Skateboard Isn't Exactly That

In its defense, though, it looks awesomely terrifying.

Skaters, rejoice! The grand day is here – a European artist has designed what's allegedly the "world's first 3-D printed twin-tip skateboard," and it looks, variously, like a plank of chewed gum, a carved ivory tusk, or a terrifying wailing wall of souls trapped in plastic.

Amsterdam's Sam Abbott is the mad maker behind this sketchy prototype, which up close seems to involve dozens of human faces squished in tremendous pain. Technically, this might be the second time someone's offered up a 3-D printed skateboard. But the first was the size of a shoebox and was ridden down a fashion catwalk, both reasons for its disqualification.

Abbott won a design competition sponsored by the 3-D model store CGTrader and creative firm 3D Print UKmotto, "we’re nerds, and we do kinda wish we were actually robots." His prize was having the design manufactured by 3D Print's founder, Nick Allen, who is shown in the above video mashing it together with lock-and-key parts. The result is a rather sturdy and eye-catching thrash machine, although if you attempted to put it through more rigorous stunts it might crack in half.

That relative fragility has PO'd a couple skate enthusiasts, who carp, "i wouldnt trust this board... guess it breaks at the first curb," and "Its not really a skateboard if you cant ollie without it breaking. Im getting really tired of this 'oh em gee its three d printed' attitude." Allen is well on board with these complaints, however, responding: "[T]his was meant to be an art piece, not a working skateboard – the point has been missed on most of the blogs."

After all, this is a guy who once wrote a Gizmodo article headlined, "Why 3D Printing Is Overhyped (I Should Know, I Do It For a Living)." So once again, this is a case of false billing as a world's first – civilization still awaits the mythical, functioning 3-D printed skateboard. This one is just a cool piece of art to stick on the mantel:

Images from 3D Print UK

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.