Getting your own synthetic ice rink is exciting, but it’s also overwhelming when you’re first learning about the product. With so many plastic ice products on the market, how do you know which one is best?
Especially when they all claim that their plastic ice has the best gliding effect, their plastic ice is a superior quality, more cost effective, etc. Like with most big purchase decisions, it’s highly recommended that you learn all there is to know.
When you have all the facts, it’s much easier to make an informed decision that you’re far less likely to regret later on. In this article we outline the facts, dispel some myths and offer tips on what to look for in a supplier. Let’s dive in.
6 Facts About Synthetic Ice
We’ll start with the six most important facts everyone should know about synthetic ice and we’ll also dispel a few myths. After reading them you’ll be in a much better position to go shopping for your garage hockey rink.
1. You Can Skate on Any Plastic: But How Much Fun Is It?
You’ve probably realized that there are numerous companies out there claiming to sell “synthetic ice.” However, what you might not know is that to be deserving of the label, plastic has to fulfill the following criteria at a minimum:
- It needs to be produced using heat-pressing
- It must feature an auto-lubricating formula
2. Self-Lubricating ≠ Self-Lubricating
Self-lubrication in itself does not guarantee exceptional performance. The performance level of synthetic ice depends on the manufacturing process, the formula by which components are added, and the quality-grade of the raw materials.
3. UV Protection Is Not Enough
Even if an artificial ice product claims to offer UV protection, the product can still change color over time. This usually happens if the raw materials and additives are of lower grade quality, resulting in them losing their chemical stability.
4. Subpar Connection System Means Subpar Experience
A simple puzzle or dovetail system has only a horizontal fixation and won’t tolerate any uneven floors. The puzzle connections are long and they get loose over time, which causes more dirt to enter. You can actually feel this when skating over them. Furthermore, water can rinse through and when it freezes, it’ll cause one panel to raise against another.
5. Accessories Are the Rink’s Achilles’ Heel
You can have the perfect synthetic ice, but if the dasher-boards aren’t functional or don’t look the part, your artificial ice rink won’t be a fun place to skate. Same goes for skates that are uncomfortable to wear or cleaning machines don’t do a good job of cleaning. Make no mistake, accessories matter almost as much as the product itself.
6. Premium Quality Is Not a Luxury
Unlike the motor industry, where even budget-friendly cars can reliably transport you from A to B, the world of synthetic ice isn’t quite as forgiving. Cheap plastic ice may promise a cost-effective solution, but once the initial buzz has worn off, skaters will soon realize that the performance simply doesn’t live up to expectations. Choosing to go with a low-quality product could end up being a costly mistake. Simply put, you’ll see neither new business nor athletic success.
6 Quality Attributes of Premium Synthetic Ice
Now that we’ve explored the facts and debunked some myths, it’s time to identify the hallmarks of premium synthetic ice. What specific qualities should you seek out? How does it feel to skate on a top-quality product? Let’s take a closer look.
1. Ice Skating Experience Mimics Real Ice
When the quality of synthetic ice closely mimics that of real ice, hobby skaters can have fun and athletes can perform their moves and figures with the same precision as they would on real ice.
2. Reduced Friction Equals Sharper Blades
A key benefit of premium synthetic ice is its low friction, which helps maintain the sharpness of skate blades. Not only does this save on costly re-sharpening fees, it also ensures a high-quality skating experience, free from the frustrations of dull skates. For athletes who rely on their skates for optimal performance, a subpar skating surface could lead them to skate elsewhere.
3. Reduced Shavings and Abrasion
Low-quality artificial ice often produces an excessive amount of shavings from abrasion, leading to a messy rink and higher cleaning costs. In contrast, premium synthetic ice is designed to minimize shavings and reduce abrasion, making for a cleaner, more enjoyable skating experience.
4. Seamless Surface with a Durable Connection System
A solid connection system is a critical feature of premium synthetic ice. The tongue-and-groove connections offer both horizontal and vertical fixation, creating a perfectly seamless surface. This not only provides a more enjoyable skating experience by eliminating any noticeable connection seams, but also ensures that the surface is durable and can tolerate even slightly uneven floors.
5. Essential Accessories for a Better Skating Experience
Investing in high-quality accessories can significantly enhance your skating experience and reduce maintenance costs. Comfortable skates with durable blades, aesthetically pleasing and highly resistant dasher-boards, and easy-to-use cleaning machines contribute to a better skating experience. These accessories can also help lower the overall operating costs of your synthetic ice rink.
6. The Real Relationship Starts Once You Have Acquired the Artificial Ice Rink
After-sales service and know-how are just as important as the quality of your synthetic ice rink. Once your rink is installed, you’ll rely on your supplier’s genuine interest and commitment to provide ongoing support and help ensure the success of your project. When choosing a supplier, it’s essential to evaluate their level of support and expertise in addition to the quality of their product.
Buy With Confidence: Choose the Right Supplier
Choosing the right supplier can make all the difference in the success of your skating project. To ensure that you’re making an informed decision, it’s important to follow these steps:
Test the synthetic ice: Whenever possible, skate on the type of synthetic ice you’re considering purchasing. If possible, bring along an experienced skater to help evaluate the quality and performance of the surface.
Request client references: Ask your vendor for a list of clients who have purchased and used their synthetic ice for an extended period of time. Reach out to these clients directly to get an honest and unbiased opinion of their experience.
Evaluate customer service: When choosing a vendor, it’s important to work with someone who will remain committed to your project even after you’ve bought their product. Look for a supplier who values customer service and has a proven track record of not only providing ongoing support, but also sharing their knowledge as and when needed.
That’s it. You now have all the information you need to make an informed decision. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about our synthetic ice technology, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts. We’re always here to help.