What is synthetic ice?

synthetic ice rink

A lot of people who come across the term synthetic ice or artificial and ask themselves, what is synthetic ice? What is plastic ice made of? How does synthetic ice work? These are the questions about plastic ice we would like to answer in this post.

Synthetic ice is a substitute for real ice which should allow its users to practice ice skating and other ice sports such as ice hockey, figure skating or Eisstock curling without the horrendous energy costs of conventional ice skating rinks. Most synthetic ice rinks are made of plastic, hence the name plastic ice rinks. There are other lesser known artificial ice rink products made by wax and other materials. Since synthetic ice imitates real ice, it is often also referred to us fake ice, pretend ice or simply imitation ice.

Since you can basically already “ice skate” on any plastic material put on a floor, there are many synthetic ice products out in the market. Some smear some lubricants on top which increases the gliding effect, but it is hard to talk about genuine synthetic ice.

Genuine synthetic ice is not normal plastic, or in other words, it should be engineered in a way to perform as close as possible to conventional ice. There are basically two different methods:

1. Synthetic ice production by injection moulding.
2. Plastic ice production by sinter-pressing or simply by pressing.

The latter is a much more expensive process, results however in higher quality synthetic ice and though also in significantly higher pricing. Depending on the synthetic ice brands, different formulas or recipes are being used to lower friction and hence increasing the gliding factor. One way is to mix the base materials with glide enhancing additives such as silicones etc. A critical factor is also the quality and purity of the raw materials being used which guarantee lower plastic ice friction. Brands who focus more on athletes, also focus on the ideal grip behaviour and glide-grip ratio.

Plastic ice comes in synthetic ice panels or ice sheets. There are different methods to connect the sheets such as tongue- and groove, dovetail or also called puzzle-system. Decisive is that the panel connections are 100% seamless in order to avoid that the synthetic ice panel section are being felt. Connection systems that are fixed both horizontally as well as vertically are the most promising systems.

Do you want to learn more about the synthetic ice technology? Do you have further questions or want to know more details about synthetic ice? You can learn useful details here about our synthetic ice technology just by reading our FAQ. If you want to talk with a synthetic ice expert, do not hesitate to contact us.