Skateboards, they ain't rocket science....until rocket scientist built one.  Photo: 121C Boards.

Skateboards, they ain’t rocket science … until a rocket scientist built one. Photo: 121C Boards

As of late July, a new high-tech, up-cycled carbon fiber skateboard, named Aileron from 121c Boards has been available via Kickstarter.

The board, inspired by and made from the same materials as rockets, is the brainchild of Ryan Olliges.

When the University of Southern California engineering student started building rockets at his school’s Rocket Propulsion Lab he was just excited to be working with the technology.

But, seeing how much material was wasted during the production of these high-tech projectiles, inspired Olliges to embark on a different type of project.

The former Eagle Scout decided to try his hand at building an up-cycled, high-tech skateboard.

Olliges saw large sheets of carbon fiber being tossed into the trash after small pieces were cut off for use as fins or other rocket parts.

"I've always made skateboards and I thought, 'Maybe I can take this material and press it into a couple of skateboards,’" said Olliges.

An aileron is named after the surface on the back of a wing of a fighter plane that helps the plane maneuver. Photo: 121C Boards.

An aileron is named after the surface on the back of a wing of a fighter plane that helps the plane maneuver. Photo: 121C Boards

He knew it would be challenging because carbon fiber needs to be cured under heat and pressure. Creating a board out of carbon fiber would require a hot press — a tool that applies high pressure while also applying heat at 121 degrees Celsius, which he later aptly named his company.

Olliges picked up a material donation from an aerospace industry ally.

He realized that wasting expensive, carbon fiber was not just a problem at the USC lab. It was an industry-wide problem.

Aerospace-grade carbon fiber is different than the material than you'd find on a high-end bike. The quantity of fibers/filaments in the fabric is higher — the more filaments, the stronger the fiber.

That's one reason why complete carbon fiber boards from companies like IXO cost well over $1,000.

The carbon fiber material needed to create an Aileron costs more than $500. But, since he was saving it from the landfill, Olliges material was free. A completed Aileron from 121c, therefore, is half the cost of its competitors.

Olliges enlisted the help of one of his professor and fellow students, and created a working press. Soon enough he had produced a few prototypes.

Beta testers shredding on the Aileron.  Photo: 121C Boards.

Beta testers shredding on the Aileron. Photo: 121C Boards.

Aerospace-grade carbon fiber is so strong, the board is actually bulletproof.

Under the auspices of testing, Olliges and co-collaborators even took the material to a shooting range. It stopped bullets from a .38. The material fared less well with bullets from an AK-47, but chances are you would never need to find out for yourself.

And the board's benefits are more than just Superman-like bullet-stopping qualities.

"It's way lighter than a wood skateboard and we've tailored the strengths so that is has a really fun flex. It's pop-y," said Olliges.

The decks are slated to retail for $275, but as of this writing, they’re currently available on Kickstarter for a pledge of $215. Complete sets will retail for $450 and are available on Kickstarter for $380.

The Aileron is built with pieces of aerospace-grade carbon fiber leftover from the production process of products like rockets.  Photo: 121C Boards.

The Aileron is built with pieces of aerospace-grade carbon fiber leftover from the production process of products like rockets. Photo: 121C Boards

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