Monthly Archives: May 2015

When to use commercial grade ice

commercial synthetic ice, heavy duty synthetic ice, full size synthetic ice rink

Full size synthetic ice rink, Northern Alberta Canada

We often get asked about when to use commercial synthetic ice verses residential synthetic ice. Probably a good place to start before we get into that is to explore the difference between the two.

The vast majority of panel systems sold today are residential – by our definition. At SmartRink we consider any panel that has little or no vertical sheer strength to be considered a residential panel. The panel thickness is NOT THE DETERMINING FACTOR. Ok so what is vertical sheer strength? There is a test that can be performed on panel connection systems that will indicate the force required to sheer apart two panel joints. So why is this important? This is important when determining the best product for your application. For example if you are considering an outdoor rink in any climate where there are wide temperature variations then you need to consider vertical sheer strength. Panel material WILL expand and contract with temperature changes. For example with a 20 degree Celsius (approx 36 degrees F) a 1 meter (about 39 inches) sheet of Pe will expand or contract about 2 mm (about 0.079 of an inch). This may not sound like much but if it was a 200 foot long rink then that would be almost 5 inches in movement. If the temperature variation was double that then the change is closer to 10 inches of movement! That is a realistic scenario in many North American climates.

Most companies claim to have commercial synthetic ice ice. They don’t. What they call a commercial panel is a thicker panel. So whether their panel is 3/8 inch thick or 3/4 inch thick the vertical sheer strength in most systems still amounts to almost zero.

This really shows up (in a bad way) when these systems attempt to put in goal creases and line markings in the rinks. Most use a “loose laid” colored panel (red line, blue line) and they are not positively connected to the surrounding panel system. It looks nice enough at first – but wait until the inevitable temperature change and voila – instant problem. Now you will see gaps and loose fitting lines where the puck can not even go over these areas. if water gets in there and then freezes – now the lines and panels are coming apart because there is no vertical sheer strength. The darker colored lines expand and contract at different rates verses the lighter colored panel material and this further causes problems.

We have seen this numerous times with competitive products. They are NOT well engineered for what we would consider a heavy duty commercial use system. This includes hockey training centers and larger inside or outside installations.

So in summary here are some scenarios for when you should use commercial synthetic ice:

– outside community synthetic ice rinks – any size
– most definitely in any climate where frost, ice, snow, are anticipated
– any location where there will be a significant change in seasonal or day to day temperature
Hockey training centers or any application with directional weight shifts
– Any application where the substrate under the synthetic ice not perfect

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Goalie Tests


Recently I travelled to Stockholm Sweden and spent a few days with SmartRink’s Scandinavian distributors. They organized a series of meetings and demonstrations to various organizations. They invited representatives from a hockey high school, a municipality, and several heavy hitters from the Swedish Hockey Federation.

We were using the new ProFast8000-SG with SmartGlide which is our panel with permanently infused glide enhancer.

Of course you would expect me to say that the demos were impressive – and guess what? They were!! The group of trainers from the hockey high school were familiar with a product called Nordic Ice. I’m not even certain who makes the product to be truthful – but it doesn’t really matter. When we asked them how it compared they did not hesitate to respond that the SmartRink synthetic ice material was superior.

There is one thing that unites all hockey players all over the world. They tell it straight up. There is no beating around the bush. They like something or they don’t – and they will tell you. And they did. All four of them were of the opinion that our product was superior. Obviously we were pretty happy about that!

Most importantly though was that our distributors saw first hand how users reacted right away and how pleasantly surprised they were that all those attending the demo were clearly impressed with this product.

Anyway – one of the demos that really stood out for me was when a young goalie tests synthetic ice and was delighted to learn how well the product worked for his lateral slides. He was effortlessly pushing side to side sliding on his pads. I was able to shoot just a few seconds of video but take a look and see for yourself. Unless you are fluent in Swedish you likely wont understand what they are saying…enjoy.

Learn more about synthetic ice for goalies.


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