We know it is very hard when buying a synthetic ice rink. There are so many plastic ice products once you google for it. Each one tells you that their synthetic ice has the best gliding effect. That their plastic ice is better, cheaper etc.
It is highly recommended to read and fully understand the following facts about synthetic ice before making a purchasing decision:
A – The 6 facts about synthetic ice
1. You can skate on any plastic – the question is how much fun is it?
You have realized that there are many companies out there selling “synthetic ice”. To deserve the label “synthetic ice” a plastic has to fulfill at least the following criteria: It needs to be produced through heat-pressing and 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 change its color over time. This usually happens if the raw materials and additives are of lower grade quality and as a result loose their chemical stability.
4. A bad connection system will cause problems
A simple Puzzle or Dovetail system f.ex. 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 and skating over them is felt. Furthermore water can rinse through and when freezing, raise one panel against another.
5. Accessories are the rink’s Achilles’ heel
You can have the perfect synthetic ice, but if for example the dasher-boards are not functional or look ugly, your artificial ice rink is not a fun place to skate. Or imagine if the skates are uncomfortable to wear or the cleaning machines do not properly clean.
6. Premium quality is not a luxury
Contrary to the car industry where a cheap car still brings you from A to B, a cheap plastic ice will not deliver. That is, after the initial buzz, skaters will not enjoy skating. Hence your rink will neither bring business nor athletic success.
Now, how do you recognize premium synthetic ice?
B – The 6 quality attributes of premium synthetic ice
1. Ice skating experience like on real ice
This allows hobby skaters to have fun and athletes to perform their moves and figures exactly the same way as on real ice.
2. Skate blades maintain an edge longer
A premium synthetic ice has low friction. It lets you save high re-sharpening costs and/ or avoid low quality skating experience due to dull skates. If their valuable skates dull fast and get damaged, athletes will avoid your synthetic ice facility.
3. No shavings and reduced abrasion
Low quality artificial ice ice produces a lot of shavings from abrasion. Skaters have shavings all over, your venue looks messy and you will have higher cleaning costs.
4. A solid connection system
Tongue-and-groove connections have both a horizontal and a vertical fixation, which makes the surface perfectly seamless. As a result the connections are not felt when skating, they won’t become loose even with multiple installations and they can tolerate not perfectly flat floors.
5. High quality, durable and compatible accessories
Comfortable skates with high-quality blades, aesthetic and highly resistant dasher-boards, efficient and easy-to-use cleaning machines contribute to a much better ice skating experience and will reduce damages, repair and overall operating costs of your synthetic ice rink.
6. Real relationship starts when you have acquired the artificial ice rink
Know-how and post-sales service is as important as the quality of the synthetic ice rink. Once you have installed your plastic ice rink, you will depend on your vendor’s genuine interest and commitment to give you support and help you make your project a success.
How can you make sure that you work with the right synthetic ice supplier?
C – Synthetic ice testing protocol
1) Make sure you get a chance to skate (if possible with an experienced skater) on the synthetic ice you intend to purchase.
2) Ask your vendor for a list of contacts with clients who have purchased his synthetic ice and have been using it for some time. Choose the clients you want to talk with. Don’t let him cherry pick the clients.
3) Get to know your vendor. Will he or she remain committed to you and your project even after you check is cashed? Service is everything.
We hope this article brought you further and gives you more clarity for what to look for. Do you want to learn more about synthetic ice? Then don’t hesitate to contact us. Our synthetic ice experts are happy to assist you.