The DarkRoom is multi-layered rapid prototyping and production program that involves a multi-faceted approach to research & development. The principle of the DarkRoom program is to develop, hone and refine our products at a much quicker pace allowing BOTE to remain at the forefront of innovation in the SUP industry. The DarkRoom provides our engineers and product developers with a playground for experimenting with advanced materials and production techniques in a controlled environment.
Physically, the DarkRoom occupies close to 15,000sqft of space in our Ft. Walton Beach corporate campus. Spread throughout the space are some of the latest and greatest computer controlled machinery, highlighted by a 18’ 4-axis CNC mill and 3-D Plastic Printers.
The DarkRoom isn’t just a space; its a project with a purpose.
Each new board design that works it's way through the Darkroom, begins with an idea born from a combination of necessity, curiosity and customer feedback. Using the latest CAD based software allows our lead designer, Corey Cooper, to rapidly explore and manipulate board shapes with extreme precision.
In the darkroom we are constantly experimenting with custom materials to produce our boards. Always looking for lighter, stronger and more environmentally sustainable materials to improve product performance. We work closely with materials manufacturers to explore the various strengths and weakness of a variety of materials compositions and weaves.
The star of the DarkRoom is undoubtedly the shaping machine. The machine is a 4-Axis CNC Mill with a 17' capacity. Built in collaboration with Mike Ewaliko from Precision Shapers, the custom machine is equipped to handle all of our radical deck cutouts, nose shapes, and bottom contours. With an accuracy of 1mm, there are really no limits to the complexity of our designs.
“The Darkroom provides a platform for us to quickly design, build and test new board designs and materials with extreme efficiency. The quick pace of development and experimentation helps to keep BOTE on the forefront of innovation.”Corey Cooper
Prototype experiments are tested extensively and the design is painstakingly refined until a final production quality shape is attained. We call these final designs DarkRoom Evolution as their shape was born of the sweat and tears which are poured into every BOTE board design crafted in the depths of the DarkRoom.
Any BOTE® board shape that was born in the depths of the Darkroom will bear the Darkroom Evolution insignia denoting the roots of the board design.
Certain evolution designs will be available as on-demand Darkroom editions built with advanced materials and hand-hewn to perfection by Darkroom gurus.
“As we perfect the designs of certain boards in the darkroom, they evolve into standard production designs. The benefit to the customer is that they are able to purchase a board design that has been tried, tested and proven to be bad-ass.” Pete Buzelli
Corey Cooper // Lead Designer
Lead Designer (and Owner) at BOTE, Corey Cooper is a licensed engineer hailing from Auburn University. Cory is the pioneer of the DarkRoom, assisting with the design of the machinery, concepting the layout and ultimately developing the workflow used in DarkRoom production. Corey's passion for this project is so strong, that on any given day, regardless of how busy things are at BOTE, you will often find Corey working in the DarkRoom.
Pete Buzzelli // Darkroom Guru
Selected to Direct and manage the Program is Pete Buzzelli. Pete comes to BOTE after 40 years in the boat building industry and has been in SUP racing for the last 7 years. “The day Pete left his job to come to us, he texted me and said ‘After 40 years of working on boats I’m done!' I replied, ‘Nope, now you are working on BOTES!’” said Cooper. “Pete is a bad-ass dude with a never stop attitude. He’s a great addition to our crew.”