Salt Lake City-based company DPS Skis has taken a significant step toward environmentally friendly, high-performance products with the development and commercialization of algae-based ski sidewalls derived from renewable resources used in all DPS skis manufactured in Salt Lake City beginning in 2022. The collaboration with Checkerspot, a California-based materials innovation company that designs performance materials at a molecular level, has produced a material and manufacturing technique designed to increase ski performance and reduce dependence on petroleum.

Checkerspot currently markets three materials: a lightweight urethane-based composite and a cast urethane, both initially marketed through the WNDR® Alpine brand as Algal Core and Algal Wall, and algae oil, formulated into MiDori® BioWick and sold to clothing brands worldwide in partnership with Beyond Surface Technologies, a Swiss textile chemical producer with the goal to advance green chemistry in textile finishing applications.

Using Checkerspot’s proprietary WING™ platform, both companies were constantly able during the development process to rapidly improve the formulation developed for DPS’s performance specifications, which optimized cushioning, impact resistance and hardness of its skis. Over the course of a year, the product teams involved tested several formulations in the labs and on snow. The result is an algae oil-derived ski sidewall with 62 percent bio-content per ASTM D6866 and exceptional binding properties, resulting in a stronger ski that is more resistant to delamination than a petroleum-based ABS sidewall, according to the developers. The WING platform combines biotechnology, materials science, advanced manufacturing techniques and consumer involvement to develop new materials tailored explicitly to end-user performance requirements.

“This project is bigger than DPS, however. We hope this work can inspire and instruct other manufacturers, even beyond the outdoor industry, in what’s possible when it comes to reducing carbon footprint with the mass commercialization of bio-based components,” said Thomas Laakso, VP of product and operations at DPS.