The Labs for deboer wetsuit

Made better by science

In order to explain what makes the deboer wetsuits different, we would like to take you back to the basics: DCR technologies, which states in short that "decreasing drag is actually the fastest way to improve your speed in the water."

Water is about 800 times more dense than air, which means that one small tweak in your stroke technique can pay huge dividends when it comes to speed and efficiency.

Drag in the water is called hydrodynamic drag:

Hydrodynamic Drag = Cx(ρv2/2)S
Cx is the dimensionless coefficient of hydrodynamic drag (this is your body position & shape of your body)
ρ is the density of the medium
v is the velocity
S is the characteristic area for the given body


In the formula above, you’ll see that velocity is squared.

This means that when you increase your velocity (how fast you swim), you exponentially increase your drag (if you swim twice as fast, you are creating four times as much drag).

While a swimmer has access to many techniques to swim faster, decreasing drag is actually the fastest way to improve your speed in the water.

Swimmer Drag in Water

Transition delay using deboer x-skin scale arrays

The easiest way to understand flow dynamics is to look at the well known golf ball example. The laws of physics show us that to minimize drag, a good strategy is to delay the separation between the laminar boundary layer and the surface of a moving body. Creating a turbulent boundary layer with a structured surface helps the laminar flow extend around the body, therefore creating a much smaller wake (drag.)

Golf Balls Merged

The Research

Transition delay using biomimetic fish scale arrays (extract)
Muthukumar Muthuramalingam, Dominik K. Puckert, Ulrich Rist & Christoph Bruecker

"Aquatic animals have developed effective strategies to reduce their body drag over a long period of time. In this work, the influence of the scales of fish on the laminar-to-turbulent transition in the boundary layer is investigated. Arrays of biomimetic fish scales in typical overlapping arrangements are placed on a flat plate in a low-turbulence laminar water channel. Transition to turbulence is triggered by controlled excitation of a Tollmien–Schlichting (TS) wave. It was found that the TS wave can be attenuated with scales on the plate which generate streamwise streaks. As a consequence, the transition location was substantially delayed in the downstream direction by 55% with respect to the uncontrolled reference case. This corresponds to a theoretical drag reduction of about 27%. We thus hypothesize that fish scales can stabilize the laminar boundary layer and prevent it from early transition, reducing friction drag. This technique can possibly be used for bio-inspired surfaces as a laminar flow control means."

The Challenge

The surface of an object always interacts with the fluid or gas it passes through. Logic seems to dictate that when a surface is smooth, it is able to move more easily because there is less resistance. Rough surfaces often increase the resistance, resulting in more drag.

Researchers first developed a simulation to understand how water flows over a scale array, which are considered ‘rough’ surfaces, and should technically increase drag. However, they found that scales are actually rows of overlapping seashell-shaped bumps. These bumps create 'peaks' and 'valleys' that allow water to flow without becoming turbulent, which helps reduce drag. The scales also delay the transition to more turbulent flow.



deboer then created a biomimetic shark scale array to see if these results could be implemented in a wetsuit surface. The scales mimicked those found on many fish, but were simplyfied to a hexagonal structure (shark scales.) We know that, compared to smooth surfaces, the scales potentially reduced drag by over 25%, helping the swimmer to save energy while swimming faster.

It's this streaked pattern that prevents scales from behaving like a typical rough surface because it keeps the flow across the swimmer even. Physicists call this a "laminar" flow, meaning the fluid is all flowing in parallel streams, or laminations, instead of swirling and interfering. It’s the critical millimeters-thick volume of water right against a swimmer's skin that causes drag, in an area called "the boundary layer."

The Potential

Incorporating a scale array 3D texture into material designs would reduce drag, helping swimmers to consume less fuel. Preliminary tests results seem to validate the net gain in drag reduction via the X-SkinTM scale array, and we are constantly reassessing any new technology giving you the edge over any existing wetsuit.

The x-skin

And this is why we do it.

deboer's X-Skin is the result of our passion for creating the highest performance equipment.

X skin