Synthetic ice is not a foreign concept to most people. It has been around for a couple of decades making year round skating possible. However, synthetic ice rinks, also known as plastic ice rinks, never really became popular due to some challenges associated with it. Winter sports therefore, remained a luxury that only countries with icy temperatures could enjoy.
Artificial ice rinks are also often used as an alternative to real or natural ice rinks, but this method is associated with high water and electricity costs and not viable in warmer climates.
In an effort to make these winter sports possible for anyone anywhere at any time, research and development has led to incredible advances that make plastic ice rinks a great alternative for real ice. However, there are some significant challenges that synthetic ice rink creators have to overcome to go from good to excellent.
In this article we will list and analyze the 7 challenges associated with synthetic ice rinks and how to overcome them:
- Uneven Surface due to an Incorrect Interlocking System
Most synthetic ice rinks use a puzzle or dovetail interlocking system, where the ice panels are interlocked horizontally, but not vertically. This can create a vertical shift in the panels causing the ice sheet to be uneven. Since the puzzle connections are long it can also allow dirt or water to enter creating an uneven surface or even shifting the ice panels .
The solution is simple. Using a tongue and roof interlocking system as shown in the picture, the panels can be interlocked horizontally and vertically, making it impossible for them to shift in any direction. This creates a perfectly seamless surface, resembling real ice.
- Requires too much Effort to Skate
Low quality synthetic ice can cause friction, leading to an undesirable skating experience and dull skates. Even the slightest friction will disrupt a skaters’ flow. It makes gliding difficult and requires more effort. Athletes waste indispensable energy and for recreational skaters the experience becomes less enjoyable. To guarantee effortless skating, high quality material has to be used to create a synthetic ice rink.
- No Ice-Like Response
Many synthetic ice rinks incorporate new technologies to make skating as easy and pleasant as possible. Nonetheless, most plastic ice rinks were not able to create an ice-like feeling on their synthetic ice. It is important to look for premium ice rinks that not only use quality materials and the newest technology, but also really create an ice-like response. Only then can skaters skate to the fullest. It’s not just about gliding and speed, it’s about the feeling and the relationship the skater creates with the ice.
- High Amount of Shavings and Abrasion
Low quality synthetic ice will cause abrasion and shavings, leaving behind a messy rink, unhappy skaters and a sky-high cleaning bill. To avoid this, premium quality raw materials have to be used. Self-lubrication also adds to the quality of the ice sheet. Self-lubrication means that no chemicals need to be added to the ice panels to create a smooth surface. However, this alone does not guarantee an exceptional performance. Everything, from the quality-grade of the raw materials to the manufacturing process and the formula by which components are added play a role in the quality of synthetic ice rinks.
- Skate Blades need to be Re-Sharpened Too Often
To avoid friction and dull blades you need an Ultra Glide Technology with enhanced molecular structure. In many lower quality plastic ice rinks this technology is not incorporated, making skating difficult and in many cases frustrating. Fortunately, there are synthetic ice rinks with ultra glide technology that not only enhance the glide factor but also allow you to have a better grip, resembling real ice rinks and providing the conditions for you to exploit your skating potential.
- Unstable Chemical Stability of the Raw Materials
Premium quality is not a luxury. Shopping for cheaper ice rinks will not pay off. The price may look appealing, but the quality will not! When exposed to sun, rain and snow it is likely that a low quality synthetic ice rink will change its color over time and its chemical stability will vary. In addition to UV protection, good quality raw materials are of vital importance to ensure the endurance and unfading quality of synthetic ice. Spend the extra dollar and get a premium quality rink that will last and deliver what it promises making the experience more enjoyable and your investment more worthy!
- Low Quality Accessories
Also known as the Achilles Heel of synthetic ice rinks. It doesn’t matter how perfectly seamless the surface of your synthetic ice rink is, if the dasher-boards are ugly, or the skates are of low quality, it will make a negative impact. High quality, durable and compatible accessories will make the difference!
Despite the many challenges listed above, synthetic ice rinks are becoming more popular and have some significant advantages over conventional ice rinks. They can be used 24/7 without having to be re-surfaced every few hours; the gliding factor is much more consistent than that of real ice, which starts at a 100% but reduces to about 80% after only a few hours of usage. It is environmentally friendly and much more economical than real ice, eliminating the cost of water and electricity that real ice rinks require.
Ice hockey in the backyard on a hot summer day can finally be a reality. If gliding on ice is what you want, Glice® is what you are looking for. Glice® delivers the most realistic synthetic ice rinks and is preferred by pros and experts. It uses high quality raw materials and implements the newest technologies, creating premium quality artificial ice rinks.
Glice® is present in over 50 countries, serving clients such as Red Bull, Coca Cola, and Base Hockey, among others. The personalized service and the global support network that the Glice® team offers its clients complements the first class material they offer.
To learn more about Glice® visit their website and get in touch. Whether it’s for ice hockey, figure skating, curling, or simple entertainment, Glice® will make your dreams a reality.
Contact us today and glide away!