Reprinted with Win's permission.
A couple of years ago, we were contacted by some of kite boarders(surfers) from MIT who wanted to design and build their own kites. One of our cloth suppliers had suggested that we could cut fabric pieces for them based on their 3D computer designs. We spent quite a while working out the necessary bugs in converting what they had to something that could be used by our cutting machine. Here's their first flight with the kite we cut for them.
Since then they have set up a web site and offer their designs for free. They also list us as a possible resource for cut cloth.
It's a pretty cost effective way to get yourself a kite, provided the only thing you have to pay us for is the material and the time we spend cutting it. (We don't do the assembly.) But if you have to pay us for doing work on the computer files we use to cut the pieces, the process gets expensive quickly.
Because of the MIT web site, we now get inquiries from all over. Here's one from Lithuania, along with my reply:
Dear Mr. Win Fowler, I'm from Lithuania and I'm making myself a power kite. I wonder if You could cut the cloth for me and how much will it cost. Thanks in advance.
I'm looking forward to hear from You.
We have cut out kites previously. We have no in-house patterns. Here is what we need.
We need a file in HPGL (.plt) format for each separate piece of the kite. The file should use a black 'pen' for the lines to be cut and a red 'pen' for the lines to be marked.
We need to know how many of each piece you need and the fabric and color from which you wish the piece made.
We charge the time we spend to do your job at $60 per hour. We charge for the fabric we use at the manufacturer's list price. Typical charges for a set of cut pieces have been between $200 and $300.
If your files are not perfect, we also charge for any time we have to spend cleaning them up so we can cut them. That can get expensive quickly. If you send us the files you want cut, we can look at them and tell whether they need work or not.
Thanks for your interest. Please don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or if we can be of service in any other way.
This is a photo that the Zero Prestige Team took of a test near Sydney, OZ.
Maine Sailing Partners built the mainsail for Bruce Schwab's Ocean Planet.