Beth, does the Tork Trux give hardcore skateboarders the freedom of choice and customization ability you mention most prefer? - "Rather than buy a complete off-the-shelf product, most hard-core skateboard enthusiasts pick out their board and components separately, choosing a customized mix and assembling them on their own."
It seems to me the Tork Trux is an off-the-shelf product. I have to admit, I think I am missing something here. Is there more than one option for the Tork Trux? Do trux come in levels, depending on ability? Not knowing anything about skateboards, can you please clarify?
@ Jenn: The Tork Trux is an off-the-shelf component, but what the company is targeting is skate board riders who don't buy a packaged board at Walmart or a sporting goods store that has the board integrated already with all the components. Rather, the hard-core enthusiasts pick out a board and then have an array of components--trucks, wheels, and the like--that they assemble based on the terrain they're riding, their ability at the time, etc. And they might change it up depending on the day, their mood, the weather ...
This design of the truck seems simple, but I guess it keys in on a major pain point riders experience while trying to change out a truck during a riding session. This design makes it simpler and at the same time, optimizing the truck's weight so it doesn't get in the way of performance.
One of the beauties of 3D simulation is the simplicity it brings to the prototyping process, which can otherwise be costly and complex. Kudos to Mr. Clark for demonstrating a more efficient way to get the job done.
OK, so this new product is easier to install. Why in the world would I consider holding a skateboard vertical to work on it? The only sensable way to work on the bottom side of a skateboard is to turn it upside down on top of a bench, or two stools, or a large garbage can, if one is desperate enough. Holding it vertical to work on it makes as much sense as putting air in a bicycle tire while sitting on the seat.
However, a new product that has a different, or possibly adjustable, angle to tilt ratio does sound interesting. And the trucks do wear out, although the ones that I have seen fail had more to do with riders hitting the ground with them from relatively higher elevations, with feet closer to the ends, such that board flex could not absorb much of the impact. With that in mind, a question comes up as to exactly why one would want the package that appeared to not be as strong as those with more material.
@William K: I think part of the beauty of the Tork Trux design is allowing riders to change the truck on the fly, hence the need to hold the skateboard vertically. At least that's how the engineer/founder described it. As for your point about more material = stronger: The company enlisted Autodesk Simulation to help create a truck design that could hold up even with less material. I didn't get the sense that the tradeoff was to use less material and have a less stable component.
Beth, I did not intend to equate more material with stronger, but with more durable. Of course, in any design optimisation effort it is vital to put the material in the right places. And I guess that I had not considered adjusting a skateboard on the fly, as it were. I do shift bike gears a lot, but I only adjust the suspension snubbers and springing occasionally.
Unfortunately, many design teams use the optimization to remove material primarily for cost reduction, with what appears to be no concern about quality reduction. They don't allow for the variations that do occur in low-budget production methods, and the result is a product that breaks when it should not.
It would be interesting to see a few more details of the truck assembly in the picture, perhaps even a discussion of just how the analysis allowed some of the changes.
Excellent point, William. You are right that far too often the optimization process is predicated on material reduction as a way to drive overall product costs down. Unfortunately, I don't have any more details on how the analysis drove some of the changes.
As a skateboarder and designer, I saw a problem and I solved it. It does appear to be simple at first glance and in this case, that’s what makes it so effective. The innovation and desire to follow through with making a product and bringing it to market is not an easy or inexpensive task. Not many can say they have done this, but we are doing it and turning a dream into reality.
The questions on configuration are expected. Here is the makeup of a skateboard. Complete (skateboard) = Deck (board) + Trucks + Wheels + Grip Tape + Bearings + Hardware. Bushings are also sold separately and to be replaced as part of the truck. Different levels exist in all of the skateboard components and are based on quality. Someone starting out could go to Walmart or Dick’s and get a complete, but its quality is not as good. As you get better and demand better quality, you can either buy value based components or high end components. Tork Trux falls into the high end category from a quality standpoint. From there, personal preference comes into play and is based on things like team riders, color options, weight and how well the product is marketed.
I have put many boards together and watched many people struggle to do this. Everyone does it a little differently and there is not a wrong or right way. I personally prefer to sit upright in a chair, stick the board between my knees, so the board is vertical, and put the trucks on the deck. This way my hands are not needed to balance the deck. In the past, this was a pain to say the least. With our new design, you don’t have to juggle quite as much. Again, there is no wrong way, just personal preference.
We did use the FEA tools in Autodesk Inventor from the Product Design Suite to test its strength. It was something that helped us make sure the part was thick enough to stand up to the forces and moment loads seen in skating. We were very close from our initial design and only needed to use this toward the end of the design. We added material where needed and removed material where we could. I consider myself more of a designer than a full blown engineer. I think that is the point when using these tools. I don’t have to be a full on analyst to make sure the part is strong enough. One specific example is the 2 holes in the base plate. The difference in Safety Factor was minimal and led to us removing unneeded material and getting a lighter truck, which is what all skaters want nowadays.
For those of you that know professional skater Mike Vallely, you will be happy to hear that he liked the idea so much that he joined our Pro Rider Team. We are very excited to have him join. He tested the trucks out personally and stated “Innovative design, plus they ride and grind with the best of them”.
The standard nuts will work with our design as all hardware is 10-32 UNF nuts and screws. The screw lengths do change, but that is yet another user preference. Our design removes 2 extra degrees of freedom by using a flange nut which makes it that much easier to use.
The USPTO did find a handfull of prior art that was close, but we were easily able to discount their objections. I know many people who have tried to get patents and have either been denied or are still in the process of trying to prove their case. We were very fortunate that ours went through after the first rebuttal.
The other thing we are doing is including the hardware and a tool with our trucks. This has not been done before, so we are bringing something else unique to the market as well, besides the design.
Dustin, thanks so much for wading in and giving us your direct "spin" on the thinking and design engineering that went into Tork Trux. I think your points about, 1) not many people seeing their ideas through fruition as a real product; and 2) how some of the emerging Simulation tools allow non-analysts, perhaps even non-engineers, to tap into sophisticated FEA capabilities to help make better products; are two really good takeaways.
I think any engineer will agree that sometimes it's the simplest ideas that end up having the most traction. Good luck with your endeavor and keep us posted on any new developments!
It looks like a good design, but details are hidden in the photo.
Torx (Star) or Hex (Allen) machine screws fasten the trucks securely to the board with ease. But the torque resistance and strength during use comes from the rubber bushing support and its geometric properties. It's not simply a problem of how to mount, but how it rides.
My nephew from Zurich once brought over 10 samples of these trucks and boards to Canada with the hopes of marketting them. http://www.cloud-9.ch/rollbretter/html-EN/trucks.html
Tensile strength, flex curve, ( or Torque Resistance) weight and life of rubber bushing and also characteristics needed to be also considered in the 3D real-world useage of this part..
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