At a time when companies are moving their production to China, Taiwan, and Eastern Europe, RAMP has developed a new, more modern patent-pending manufacturing process. This new process produces a high-performance product offering complete flexibility in shape and ski design. Having total control over quality, R&D, and materials is a major development.
Since the 1960s, skis have been molded using very large presses that are incredibly expensive and result in a process that is not clean or efficient. They also require very expensive aluminum molds carved out with a cavity for every model and every size. These molds are typically at least $6,000 a piece. These presses compress the layers against a camber plate at 4 bars of pressure, forcing the layers into un-natural shapes resulting in a very small sweet spot and loss of material benefits. With the new process RAMP has invented, the huge, old presses are avoided by using a more modern vacuum-molding system like what is used to make a composite blade for a helicopter. With vacuum molding, the pressure is equal in every direction and about 25 percent as much—the layers aren’t forced into any shape between the contact points. The camber results from the thermal expansion characteristics of each layer. This provides a much greater sweet spot and maximum material benefit. As RAMP doesn’t need to use traditional molds, this process allows for ultimate creativity in shape. This allows for incredible innovation—to be able to test and make any shape at will—instead of being stuck with molds that quickly become outdated in this fast-moving design environment. In addition, RAMP is using U.S.-made machines and U.S.-made materials such as bases, resins, sublimation materials and composites in order to support the “Made in America” attitude that has become so critical to an economic recovery and a new era of U.S. manufacturing.
The way manufacturing migrated out of the U.S. is an interesting study. Companies took their exact same machines and processes and moved them as they were to places with cheap labor to make the same types of products at an inexpensive price. What RAMP is doing is spearheading an initiative to create a new, cleaner, more efficient process using materials that are better (e.g., a resin that uses pine by-products versus petro-chemicals, a much greener epoxy; an FSC Fully Certified Bamboo Core that is four times as hard as a normal poplar core, which provides an incredibly, solid precise feel. And yet, a core three times as expensive as what the other companies use but is so strong it eliminates the need for plastic sidewalls). By throwing out the old processes, RAMP is convinced U.S. companies can produce and thrive in America.
It is a fact that most of the best selling models of skis and snowboards in the U.S. are made in China by companies such as K2 and Burton, brands that used to produce in America but now pay people—who have never skied or even seen snow—$200/month. RAMP is not willing to accept this and is excited to use the new technological advances it developed to offset this cheap labor and lack of environmental responsibility. For this season, RAMP will produce all adult skis, the following season snowboards as well.