As artists create imagery for Comet boards, each work of art is shaded, colored, sized, and cropped to fit its respective board shape through refinement and collaboration with Comet Graphic Designer Kaya Keys. Comet has pioneered methods over 15 years of laying graphics down on skateboards, that are safe for our workers and the environment as well as look awesome. Our inks are made in the USA and are so safe, they’re used in nursery schools. Each color in the graphic is individually silk screened by hand. As the screen printer skillfully mixes and swirls layers of ink into the final image - each board is individually unique, like our riders.
The final step in the board making process is applying the protective clear coat for durability. Comet has been pioneering and perfecting the use of water-based clear coats since 1997 – we’re leaps and bounds ahead of all others. Not all water based clear coats are created equally - we worked with our suppliers to create the best and, as of 2012, the Comet line is coated with the most environmentally friendly, high-performing clear coat available anywhere. This coating ensures that the boards are protected from all the elements and your graphics stay looking rad.
By innovating with water based clear coats and inks Comet has proven skateboards do not need to be made with hazardous, toxic coatings and inks. These innovations pave the way to keep millions of tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from entering our atmosphere annually, as more skateboard companies and wood product companies work to catch up with us. Over the last fifteen years of making skateboards, Comet has prevented approximately 3 tons of VOCs from entering the atmosphere and our production crew's lungs.
Don’t just take it from us, here’s an article from Concrete Wave:
Comet Skateboards has used just about every graphic application method imaginable. From screen printing on rice paper to sublimation to heat transfer to screen printing. The Comet way of graphic creation is the culmination of 15 years of experimentation with multitudes of methods. Comet seeks to balance graphic beauty with practicality and strives to create a platform for other companies to move forward with more innovative, artistic, and less toxic methods. This interview with the artists at Comet give a peek at how to achieve hot colors, high contrast, solid art, and safe working conditions during the graphic making process. In the Comet tradition, this level of transparency is as much intended to move the industry forward as it is to educated young people about the impact that every purchase has.
About Heat Transfers
While heat transfers have some benefits in production, they have major issues to reconcile, not the least of which is toxicity. Printing heat transfers for skateboards require such a high solvent content that they cannot be made in the USA. If they are applied in the USA they have been shipped from China. A heat transfer graphic is composed of emulsified PVC inks that have been printed onto a mold release plastic sheet. When applied, every graphic generates a 2 to 4 mm sheet of plastic that cannot be recycled. The inks that are on the sheet are dissolved PVC in MEK, Butyl Cellosolve, Toluene or some other solvent. Once the graphic evaporates its solvents it can be boxed and shipped. During the application process, the vapors from heating the PVC up to 300 F causes mucous membrane irritation and the prolonged effects can be linked to multitudes of deadly diseases. The manufacture of PVC is the leading chemical cause of human health concerns. Dioxin and Phthalates (used as a softener), which are highly concentrated in PVC, are carcinogenic and are linked to several other diseases. Think of that brand new shower curtain or car smell then heat it up to 300 F one thousand times a day and that is what your average heat transfer tech has to endure every day.
Check out the rest of this Concrete Wave story online. Click on the magazine cover and go to page 42.