Some History and the Story
Miki Langenbach bio
My educational background is in engineering and mathematics but a
fascination for sailboarding kept me away from a "normal" life with a 9
to 5 job and a big superannuation.
Instead I traveled the world,
looking for fun, wind and waves. After many years of collecting
valuable experiences I settled down in Germany as part of the growing
sailboard industry. I have built hundreds of sailboards, from shaping to
polishing, the standard conventional way and any avenue of high tech
composite. Parallel to my life as a shaper I operated an import - export
business, mainly supplying the surfboard and sailboard industry in
Europe. Getting older I started to get smarter (it is bloody hard work
to shape those 8' to 10' up to 5" thick monsters) and, in 1984, built my
first profiler, kind of a copy of what my mate in Sydney showed me.
This profiler was different to most others as it used a planer to cut,
my first "stress free" blank holding mechanism and a very effective dust
extraction. Now I could reproduce accurate curves and improve my
surfboards but the profiler was also used to supply half of Europe with
"preshapes". My era as a "preshaper" had begun.
In 1993 my
first "Pantograph" pumped out surfboards. A love-hate relationship was
born. Pantographs suffer all the problems of any shaping machine and
some more. As there is no "perfect" original, there is always a worse
copy in an even more inaccurate blank. With a production of over 10 000
surfboards per year, maintenance became a burden. With Murphy's law on
the wall I started the maintenance war, declaring victory in 1997/1998.
Now I had a machine that needed a drop of oil now and then and new
brushes from time to time, capable of 12 surfboards per hour. But it had
been a tough war with many lessons to be learned. Shaping machines mean
heat, dust, vibration, enormous cutting forces and, you guessed it,
Parallel to this venture I started to go digital.
Computer controlled shaping of individual custom surfboards was my aim; I
had to get out of the dust, heat and noise. A little air-conditioned
control room was my goal.
I did not see the "machine" as a big
problem any more, the software was the key. So I started of with a
letter to Ian Pierce but he made it only up to Byron Bay. He never
arrived at the Gold Coast. Back to CAD programs, laser and touch
scanning, surface modeling programs and so on. Nix gut. One day my
friend in Sydney rang me and told me about a program he had found on the
internet. This was more to my liking, the basics looked good. I invited
the programmer over to Australia, outlined our idea and signed a
contract. Things started rolling. We had a machine in the making and a
program in development. In March 2000 the machine was ready to roll but
the program needed still a lot of work. In 2001, Emmanuel decided to
sell his program Shape 3D to everyone and not exclusive to my APS3000.
At the time I was very keen to have the best software available for my
machine exclusive. I was back to square one but I had a bag full of
experience and a fully working machine. Now I knew exactly what I wanted
but not yet how to get it. Back to scanning, discussions with CAD
companies, quotes from software developers and so on and yes, many of
these things made surfboards but the control was not in the hands of the
shaper and the results did not satisfy the critical eye of the shapers.
In 2001 the heaven opened and by chance Jimmy and Ralph
joined. Jimmy and Ralph made it possible that I could dream what I
wanted and the next day it was programmed reality. At the beginning of
2003 I was finally able to design and machine surfboards with ease.
Still with little limitations but in July 2003 all this was history.
Finally I could do what I wanted, design a surfboard like a shaper
without special computer skills, tweak the surfboard a bit here and
there, position the design on screen into the blank of choice and press
the button. With this development the machine had blanks to work and
grew from strength to strength. In July 2003 I made 20 surfboards on the
APS3000, in August 2003 I made 50 surfboards, half a year later I
started the machine had a history of over 4000 surfboards. Not bad for a
little single cutter machine originally designed as a shapers tool to
make a few surfboards a day. And yes, she can make stingers, wingers,
pintails, concaves, perfect transitions, noses to a point, cut the
stringer clean and much more. Maintenance?? A drop of oil now and then
and new brushes from time to time. Over the years I perfected my "stress
free" blank holding system and invented a revolutionary cutting system.
You will love her as I do. By the way, I now use brushless servo's... .
And did I mention that all 4000 surfboards were individual custom
The Future? The APS 3000 is an open design that can
incorporate whatever will come. I could invent the deck rail cut and
retrofit every machine out there, I also could proof how easy it is to
readjust the machine for those 12'+ paddle boards . Next I will try to
cut even cleaner at the same process speed, channels are still a
challenge and we will see what 64 bit processors can do better.
Vilmin and his son Thomas are back and their program Shape 3D is today
unrivaled. I had proven that an exclusive arrangement made economic
sense but Emmanuel proved to me that I would be in deep trouble without
his software, available to everybody. Today more than ever the APS3000
can proof its worth and I look forward to the future.
See you there ...