Snowboard Bases: Extruded Vs. Sintered
There are a few questions that you shouldn’t ask in the Sierrasnowboard.com forum. These questions include, but are not limited to: “Is rocker better than camber?” “Is Burton better than Capita?” “Is goofy better than regular stance?” and “Are extruded bases better than sintered snowboard bases?” Each of those questions opens the flood gates and usually starts a flame war between those members of the community that are for, or against, one side of the argument or the other. Of course, the only sensible answer is: it’s all a matter of personal opinion.
You know the saying: “Opinions are like…you-know-whats. Everyone has one and no one thinks theirs stinks.” So, in the battle of extruded vs. sintered snowboard bases, there is no right answer. The only way to know which is the best is to learn what you can about each kind of base, maybe try each of them out, and form your own opinion. Just because a well respected member of the Sierra community thinks sintered snowboard bases are the best, doesn’t magically make it so.
Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of the difference between extruded and sintered snowboard bases and the pros and cons of each.
The facts: Extruded bases are made with polyethylene pellets that are melted down under extreme heat. Once melted, the pellets are forced together under pressure using a machine that measures the correct base thickness. The result is one solid, completely smooth piece of polyethylene. Extruded snowboard bases tend to be more durable and cheaper to make than sintered bases. Extruded bases are not porous and do not hold wax as well as sintered snowboard bases. As a result, an extruded base will be much slower than a properly maintained, and waxed, sintered base. On the other hand, an extruded base will be much faster than an un-waxed sintered base.
Pros: Cheaper, more durable
Cons: Slower, does not hold wax
The Facts: Sintered snowboard bases are made with the same polyethylene pellets as extruded bases. However, instead of melting the pellets, the pellets are forced together under extremely high pressure. The result is a single piece of connected pellets with tiny pores across the entire length. Sintered bases are ideal for wax because the pores between the pressure-fused pellets hold the wax in place and help it stick to the base of the snowboard. When waxed regularly, sintered bases are much faster than extruded bases. Sintered bases can also be harder to repair than extruded bases.
Pros: Faster, holds wax better
Cons: More expensive, harder to repair
In regards to graphics, there are 3 ways to put graphics on a snowboard base.
The first method is screen-printing. Screen-printing is accomplished by taking a snowboard base and printing the graphics directly onto the snowboard base in layers from the bottom up toward the core. Extruded bases are perfect for screen-printing as they tend to have more clarity than sintered bases.
The second method is sublimation. During this process, the manufacturer prints the graphic onto paper and then uses heat and pressure to transfer the ink from the paper to the base of the snowboard. Then, a second layer of colored, screen-printed ink is applied to seal and brighten the artwork. The second layer is used as a primer for the epoxy that is used to adhere the base to the snowboard. Extruded bases cannot withstand the pressure and heat used during sublimation. Thus, sintered bases are ideal for this method.
The final method of transferring graphics to a snowboard base is the die-cut method. In this method, the manufacturer usually starts with a dark colored base and cuts sections out of it. The empty spaces are then filled with a different colored insert piece of the exact shape. Once all of the pieces are cut and put together, the base is put through a press that fuses, or sinters, the pieces together. Again, this type of base is ideal for sintered snowboard bases. Die-cut bases have crisp edges and very defined graphics.
As you find out more about each type of base, keep in mind that there are always pros and cons to each. Your best bet is to try out a snowboard with each type of base and then decide for yourself which is the one you prefer the most. Sierrasnowboard.com features snowboards with both types of bases featuring all three graphic creation methods. And for the record, sintered bases are the best.
Photo Credit: Sierrasnowboard.com 2010 Sierra Crew Snowboard with a die-cut sintered base.