Synthetic ice by SmartRink. What makes our synthetic ice different?

SmartRink synthetic ice panels are sinter pressed. That means not only will our panels be more durable over the long term but they also deliver superior skating performance!

There is a big debate in snowboarding and skiing circles about sinter pressed bases verses extruded bases for skis and snowboards. The same debate needs to be held for synthetic ice.

Sinter pressed sheet material has several main advantages over extruded material. First and foremost is that a higher molecular weight resin may be used for sinter pressing. The higher molecular weight resin ultimately produces a panel that is not only more abrasion resistant but will also offer superior skating (glide) performance over an extruded sheet.

Extruded sheet is limited in that the extrusion process is not able to use higher molecular weight resin, it just does not work. So when a sheet is extruded it can only use certain grades of resin. This accounts for why an extruded sheet tends to “shed” a lot of pastic residue while being skated on. This not only creates more maintenance work, but it also means the panel is wearing out more quickly.

Simple lab tests by any sheet manufacturer will attest that a higher molecular weight product is far more abrasion resistant than a lower molecular weight product. This test can be then be used to determine what a skate blade over the long term might do to a panel. One common such test is known as the sand slurry test.

Read more about the research we’ve put into our SmartRink synthetic ice rinks.

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Corporate Event Ideas

The next big corporate event ideas?

Have you ever considered a theme using synthetic ice for your next big corporate event idea? Think about the possibilities you could be exploring at any time of the year. You could hold a hockey game in the summer, or a skating fashion show, or hire professional ice dancers. Or how about a Christmas themed event or a Winter Wonderland event – any time of the year.

Corporate Event Ideas

Offering a skating themed event inside a ball room or outdoors on the beach might be very memorable, something to get your employees talking about and creating a positive buzz around your organization. Corporate event ideas can be a real challenge for an event marketing company or for a company’s internal marketing organization. With a synthetic ice skating rink by SmartRink we can ensure that your next corporate event idea is a real winner.

As with most great corporate event ideas, there is always the problem with budgets and with resources. With a SmartRink Corporate event there is always a way to pull off great corporate event ideas and not stretch your budget or resources to the max. We offer rental options for our synthetic ice rinks.

Corporate events ideas with SmartRink

We have worked with companies large and small with budgets ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 for our typical synthetic ice rink packaged events. Additional options and accessories such as skates, rubber matting, cleaning services, skate sharpening services, and operators can also be arranged depending on your unique requirement for your corporate event ideas. We can even provide skating lessons!

Synthetic ice that travels

SmartRink has travelled all over North America including, Las Vegas, New York, Toronto, Calgary, Halifax, Ottawa, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Our event rinks have been set up on Broadway and on waterways, we have run corporate events in the heat of the summer and in the cold of the winter, inside or outside. Corporate event ideas now become portable and possible with a SmartRink synthetic ice event.

Line up your next big Corporate Event Idea today!

Contact SmartRink with your corporate event idea and we can customize a solution tailored to your exact needs. Call today and book your event with SmartRink before someone else does. Learn more about why SmartRink synthetic ice would be perfect for you!

 

 

 

 

 

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What is synthetic ice

When people ask what is synthetic ice it can be a challenge to answer in a way that they can truly understand and grasp the both the concept and the product capability. So in this post I am going to do my best to give you a brief education and overview on what is synthetic ice.

Synthetic ice is a plastic

Yes, in it’s most basic form synthetic ice is plastic. To be sure there are a lot of different kinds of plastic. There are also various ways that plastic is made. So what is synthetic ice made of? Generally speaking it’s made of polyethylene although there are a few that appear to be made from other material as well.

Polyethylene and synthetic ice

There are various grades of polyethylene. I have written about this before so check out some of our earlier posts about that topic. Typically though what is synthetic ice polyethylene? We generally see products in the HDPe – VHMWPe classifications and even within these there can be quite a variety of molecular weights. For example HDPe can range from 300,000 g/mole to 500,000 g/mole.

What is synthetic ice manufacturing methods

Typically any product we see being made in North America is extruded. Extruded polyethylene does can have a molecular weight that is over 500,000 g./mole. This is a limiting factor for this method. The result is a decent sheet suitable for skating on but it won’t be the best material. Some companies claim to use a higher molecular weight and also claim they extrude the material. The only explanation for this is that they mix materials such that it will work in the extruder. The other method of manufacture is sinter pressing. This process uses extreme pressure along with heating and cooling of the material. This is advantageous because it de-stresses the material. Sinter pressing also allows for a much higher molecular weight material to be used and will produce a superior glide and far superior durability over the long term of the product. There are standard industry tests such as the sand slurry test that will demonstrate how much better sinter pressed material with higher molecular weight is to abrasion resistance than standard extruded material. That test shows how durable a product will be over time.

Ask questions about synthetic ice

So when people ask “what is synthetic ice” it is important to understand that there can be vast differences between suppliers. Clients tell me that other suppliers they talk to are reluctant to share very much product information with them. That’s unfortunate, but in order to do a proper analysis between products it’s essential to understand more about material, glide enhancers and connection systems. Then once you have all the basic information you can be better armed to make some legitimate price comparisons. Otherwise you are potentially relying on some companies marketing or sales pitch and that could lead to disappointment. Hopefully that is never the case.

What is a synthetic ice Free Trial?

It is understood that this can be a complicated and confusing purchase. SmartRink offers a Free Trial to assist you in making an informed intelligent decision. On our website just enter the Synthetic ice Free Trial button and you’ll be on your way to skating at home or anywhere, whenever you like.

Learn more about what it is like skating on synthetic ice.

 

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Skating on Synthetic Ice by SmartRink

Players face off on SmartRink Synthetic Ice

Players face off on SmartRink Synthetic Ice

Is there an adjustment period to skating on synthetic ice? 

With any training product there is always an adjustment while you learn how to use it and become comfortable with it so you can improve your skills.  Synthetic ice is no different! Skating on synthetic ice will force your body and muscles to practice proper skating techniques so that when you transition to real ice, you will be that much quicker and have increased agility.  You will see an improvement in your stride and you will develop quick feet that gives you an competitive edge amongst other skaters.

How long does it take to adjust to skating on synthetic ice?

Depending on your skating ability and how sharp your skates are, your adjustment period could be anywhere from a few minutes to 20 minutes for skating on synthetic ice.  Keeping your feet moving will give you the best experience, which is no different than on real ice. If you don’t move your feet, you won’t be able to glide.  Start out with something simple such as a T-push or long strides.

 What’s it like to skate on synthetic ice?

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve been skating for over 25 years and have played hockey for the majority of those years.  When it came to skating on synthetic ice at first, it was a bit different. But after about 5 minutes of skating around and getting the “feel” for skating on synthetic ice, there was nothing I couldn’t do on synthetic ice that I can do on real ice.  I can tell you with 100% confidence that if you or your child were using our synthetic ice product regularly, not only will they have no trouble skating on synthetic ice, but you WILL see an improvement in their skating ability on real ice and watch how their confidence increases along with it.

Is synthetic ice good for beginners or those learning how to skate?

Using synthetic ice for those just learning to skate is a phenomenal training tool. It helps them keep their balance more so than real ice because there is a bit more resistance.  This will help improve their confidence and encourage them to keep pushing forward whether they be hockey players or figure skaters.  Having the resistance also helps them stand up longer which gives them a better opportunity to take their hands off of the sides and skate all by themselves.  It might still hurt when they fall down, but at least it’s not as cold!

If you would like more information on skating on synthetic ice, check out our website or contact one of our representatives and they would be happy to help answer your questions.

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Synthetic ice reviews

A lot of folks are interested in synthetic ice reviews simply because there is not a great volume of credible information being published in this industry. Synthetic ice reviews can not only assist you in making an informed decision but it can help you to make a wise long term investment in your child’s skating and playing future.

So what is important to know about synthetic ice?

A lot of people focus on the price of synthetic ice, and there is no doubt that price is important. But you’ve purchased enough things in your life to know that low price almost will never buy you the best product. Right? That’s just common sense. But you should understand a few other important aspects as well when you do your synthetic ice reviews. The material for example needs to be considered. Is it HDPe or HMWPe or VHMWPe of UHMWPe? Then how is it made? Is the sheet sinter pressed or extruded? There is a huge difference there. Did you know for example that every sheet made in North America is extruded? This process reduces a sheet that is less durable and has a reduced glide than sinter pressed sheets. Your thorough synthetic ice reviews will reveal that of course. Another important consideration is the connection system. Every producer makes a dovetail joint connection system. There are a few variations of it but in the end they all have an Achilles heel. And that is that they can be vertically separated when there is a vertical force at the joint. This type of synthetic ice joint connection really should never be used outside where there is a great chance of vertical separation due to temperature variations such as heat and extreme cold along with ice and snow. Your synthetic ice reviews must make these determinations.

So how do you really know what synthetic ice is best for you?

You really need to set a realistic budget for yourself based on the size you want. When you conduct your synthetic ice reviews please ensure that you understand there are different performance levels with the various price categories. A lower price level and therefore a lower performance level will run you about $8 per square foot. A decent mid-range price level and therefore a medium performance level will cost around $12 psf. Then depending on the material and the joint connection system you can pay between $16 and $23 psf. The higher priced products will not only be superior material but they will also likely be sinter pressed sheets so they will be much more durable and abrasion resistant.

So realistically how different is one synthetic ice material over another?

The easy answer is the larger the surface area, the more relevant this questions becomes. If you only want a 10ft x 10ft surface in your basement then by all means it makes sense to go for a lower end product. The reality is that you can only skate a minimal amount anyway so a size like this is more appropriate for shooting pucks. On the other hand a larger surface should demand a superior material and potentially a stronger connection system because you will notice a difference in glide and speed and ease of movement with a larger surface. The differences are vast but they are even more significant with a larger surface. A good rule of thumb – the larger the surface the more you should be prepared to spend per square foot – The skaters will definitely notice.

Talk to several synthetic ice companies

Through the process of completing your synthetic ice reviews ensure that you speak live to several reputable companies and ask the same series of questions and then compare the answers you receive. Synthetic ice can become a significant investment. If you still aren’t certain then take advantage of our synthetic ice Free Trial so that then you will really know what to expect prior to spending a lot of money.

Learn more about SmartRink synthetic ice.

 

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Synthetic ice rink

So what’s it like skating on a synthetic ice rink?

Potential buyers can be reluctant to seriously consider a synthetic ice rink because they really just don’t understand the product. Maybe they had a negative experience where there kid fell flat on his face the first time they tried out a synthetic ice rink. Or maybe it was grossly oversold by a company who really didn’t understand it themselves and created super unrealistic expectations. perhaps they “heard” from a hockey coach who tried it once and hated it because he couldn’t skate backwards on it. At SmartRink we have heard all of these reasons and many, many more.

Just how realistic is it?

Some companies suggest that their brand of synthetic ice is just like ice, or 97% the same as real ice or some ridiculous claim or another. So here’s the real scoop. In tests that we have done with our product verses real ice we have found that with a single “T-push” from a dead stop that we can travel around 35 to 40 feet on a SmartRink synthetic ice rink. So is that good? Well maybe that’s a matter of opinion. When we compare that real ice and using the same skater doing a similar “T-push” then they can take that distance up to 60 feet. The other test we have on the SmartRink synthetic ice rink is we have done a speed test where a skater goes from a dead stop and is timed over a fifty foot distance. The same test was then completed over multiple trials on real ice. The average times between our synthetic ice rink and the real ice were virtually identical. So what does that really tell us? From a practical point of view it would suggest that as long as you are working on synthetic (moving your feet) then you will move. When you stop moving your feet you will stop more quickly than on real ice.

Synthetic ice coefficient of friction is a poor indicator of performance for skating

Some synthetic ice rink sellers use the coefficient of friction (COF) to suggest that their synthetic ice rink material is very similar to that of real ice. This is irresponsible,  and frankly misleading marketing in our opinion. Synthetic ice material is often rated at a 97% or 98% COF. This should not be ever mistaken to mean that a synthetic ice rink will perform at 97% or 98% as well as real ice. COF is a standard test with most sheet manufacturers where a polished steel disc is pulled along the material and the resistance is measured. This is a far cry from a sharp steel skate blade under significant weight.

So what can I expect with my synthetic ice rink?

What you can expect with products that have higher molecular weight material with a good glide enhancer is a favorable skating experience. You won’t be able to glide as far but you should be able to skate as fast as long as your feet are moving. You can stop, turn, pivot, skate forward, backward, jump, spin, use pucks, shoot and pretty well anything else that you would normally do on real ice.

How can you really be sure that your synthetic ice rink will be good?

Can you ever really know if anything you buy will be as good as advertised? Well think about it. When you buy a house you walk through it and you inspect it. When you buy a car you test drive it. Well at SmartRink we also believe in trying your synthetic ice rink before you have to buy it. So we pioneered the Free Trial of our synthetic ice rink products. You simply go to www.smartrink.com and fill out our Free Synthetic Ice Rink Trial program form and we will do the rest. Doing business should be easy and worry free and with SmartRink is it. So if you are thinking about buying a synthetic ice rink then consider SmartRink.

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Synthetic Ice Pricing

Have you ever wondered about synthetic ice pricing? There is no doubt that the majority of requests we receive inevitably are about product pricing. What I would like to do is walk you through the type of information that can affect synthetic ice pricing so you can make more informed decisions. After all if you are going to spend a good chunk of your hard earned dollars then you need to be properly informed on synthetic ice. Understanding factors that go into synthetic ice pricing will help you make a better decision.

Synthetic ice material

First you have to understand that not all material is the same. There are several categories of materials used and they typically differ by the molecular weight and also by the way its actually manufactured. Molecular weight categories can be LDPe (low density polyethylene), HDPe (high density polyethylene), HMWPe (high molecular weight polyethylene), VHMWPe (very high molecular weight polyethylene) and UHMWPe (ultra high molecular weight polyethylene). Puck board or arena board is typically LDPe for example.

Molecular weight of synthetic ice material

Generally speaking the synthetic ice pricing will be greater per panel where the material is VHMWPe or UHMWPe. The vast majority of products we have come across on the market are HDPe grade material. The reason we know this is because the vast majority of panels produced are extruded sheet material. Extruded sheets are going to be LDPe or HDPe. Molecular weight is typically measure in grams/mole.

Extruded or Sinter Pressed synthetic ice material

Extruded sheets can also be problematic in terms of stresses due to expansion and contraction forces. Extruded sheets are not de-stressed to the degree that sinter pressed sheets are simply because of how they are manufactured. During the sintering process the sheets are heated under enormous pressure, then cooled, then heated again. This takes stress out of the material and the result is a sintered sheet will not only be machined more accurately but it will lay flat whereas an extruded sheet can curl up on the edges and react poorly to temperature variables such as warping or coming apart at the joint connections. The process of sintering the material is more capital intensive and typically will affect the synthetic ice pricing. The result however is a much superior wearing and higher performance material. That means better quality skating over the long term.

Synthetic ice pricing…what effects the price?

So to summarize the effect on synthetic ice pricing, the two main drivers are the manufacturing process itself and the raw material resin or more specifically the molecular weight of the resin. The higher the molecular weight of the resin the more expensive it will be as the main cost input when determining the synthetic ice pricing.

So how would a consumer compare synthetic ice pricing?

Admittedly, it can be difficult for a consumer to determine these things on their own. Unfortunately this industry does a poor job in communicating these topics in a way that consumers understand enough to compare products. Personally, I believe consumers need to get to the heart of the matter when it comes to synthetic ice pricing. Intuitively consumers are smart enough to know that every company can’t be the best, the fastest, and the cheapest. Sorry life doesn’t work that way. We understand the dilemma and so we have taken steps for consumers to test our product before they ever have to buy it.  We have essentially removed any buying risk from the purchase. Obviously we have to be competitive price wise and so our approach is that we offer multiple products and different price points and we explain the differences then based on the consumers budget they select the best product for their budget.

Synthetic ice is usually not a “spur of the moment” purchase decision. Generally buyers do their research and consider various options such as material, connection systems, application, supplier location, pricing, and customer service. Just be careful of the marketing hype and boastful claims from a lot of companies. Make sure you call and talk to a representative. Ask for references and testimonials, and call them or email them to see what their experience has been.

Synthetic ice peace of mind

So it’s the moment of truth and you want to feel good about dropping thousands of dollars on the right product. If you still are not really sure and 2 or 3 suppliers seem like the right fit, then think about going with the company that offers the free trial of our synthetic ice so that you can use the product before making a decision. It’s the “easy button”. If you like it you keep it, if you don’t you send it back.  Before you know it your kids will be skating around at home and having a ball. Make a smart decision, with SmartRink synthetic ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living the Dream on Synthetic Ice

Synthetic ice can make a huge difference in your child’s skating and skills development. I receive a lot of calls from really proud hockey parents and figure skating parents who know their kids have some talent when it comes to skating or playing hockey. Like most parents they want their kids to be high achievers and to have every opportunity to be their best. They consider buying synthetic ice because it can truly make a difference in their children’s training and therefore their on ice performance.

I saw first hand what synthetic ice did for my kids

And it’s true. I have seen that with my own eyes with my own kids. Both of my kids are excellent skaters. My son now plays junior hockey while attending university, and my daughter is attending a hockey prep school on scholarship. I saw first hand what synthetic ice did for my kids hockey training at home.

Now I’m not talking about synthetic ice that is impossible to skate on, or turn, or pivot, or skate backwards. I’m talking about a high quality product that will help your child develop their skills. There is nothing worse than paying a bunch of your hard earned dollars on a product that over promises and under delivers. What will happen is your child will not like it, and they will not use it. My industry is full of synthetic ice companies like that. Whether you live in Canada, U.S.A., or anywhere in the world, there are a few great products, and a lot of just OK products. So research your synthetic ice company before you buy.

Buy a quality synthetic ice product

You can really help your child live the dream and train properly when they buy a quality synthetic ice product, or at the very least a synthetic ice product that might have lower quality but is priced appropriately.

Your child should be able to do anything on a good synthetic ice product that they can do on real ice. That said, synthetic ice will not instantly make your child a better skater. If the proper mechanics are not there to begin with then like anything it will become a work in progress. Great improvements can be made though rapidly because your child can now be practicing everyday at any time. There are no longer restrictions on ice times.

Train on synthetic ice at home, anytime you want

Imagine if your child was a good skater, but just could not lift the puck, or take a slap shot. A common enough scenario. Now put synthetic ice in your basement or garage and all of a sudden they can practice with their skates on – at home! Now instead of taking 100 shots in running shows they have their skates on and are at the correct height to take a shot because they are on top of synthetic ice. Now the possibilities are endless all of a sudden. Day by day the shots improves and now your child is actually encouraged and excited to go to practice again so they can show off their new skills to their team mates.

The next thing you know tryouts are here and your child is becoming the full package. Great skater, all the skills, all the things coaches look for in selections. You know you made a good decision in buying the synthetic ice for home and you have given your child every chance to make the most of it.

Having synthetic ice at home means training anytime. That’s a good feeling.

If you are serious about your child’s future development then an investment in synthetic ice is a wise one. There is probably no better training tool and they will be one step closer to fulfilling their dreams. Read more about why SmartRink synthetic ice would be great for you athlete.

 

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Synthetic Ice Connection Systems – do your homework!

Choose the right synthetic ice product for your application

We have written numerous articles about the importance of synthetic ice product selection for your application. There is a very good reason why! Not all products are very well suited to all applications. This synthetic ice review demonstrates the importance of selecting the right synthetic ice connection system for the job.

Just recently we faced a situation with a customer looking for a backyard synthetic ice rink with goal creases and some hockey line markings. We proposed our solution but unfortunately we lost out on the pricing. The red flag to the client should have been when the competitor priced their solution at more than 30% lower than our own. That’s a significant drop in price. I did suggest to the client that they at least negotiate a 30 day money back guarantee from the supplier as I was suspicious about the quality, especially when the price was cut so drastically.

On the surface the product looked like it was going to be really good but the reality is that the product failed miserably.

The family was completely dismayed and frustrated, especially after spending a great deal of money! At this point they called us back and asked us for suggestions that might help them out, even though it wasn’t our product. We did make some suggestions about the sub surface which was a newly poured concrete pad. But once they showed us the installation photos of the problem there was really nothing that could be done. They managed to convince the supplier to take it back and to their credit they did take it back, although it was not an easy process in terms of removal, packing and shipping.

Synthetic ice connection systems matter

The main trouble with this particular synthetic ice rink system was wherever the synthetic ice or goal creases or lines joined the standard synthetic ice panels there was a problem with the fit of the connection. The alignment was so bad that a puck could not slide over those areas, it would stop dead. Then when the temperature changed it became even worse as the product expanded or contracted as the temperature affected it. This would be especially concerning come winter time when there was rain turning to ice and snow. Rain would have built up under the panels then froze, and popped all the connection joints making the rink completely useless – not to mention unsafe for skating.

It’s an unfortunate lesson this family had to go through. Their new synthetic ice rink should have been an exciting experience and instead was frustrating and time consuming.

Inexpensive synthetic ice systems often mean shortcuts

We have always maintained that the only true way to make a strong, safe, and long term connection for hockey lines is to use the H-lock spline system between hockey lines and the synthetic ice panels. It takes a little more time to install and its generally more expensive however the result is undeniable. You will end up with a tight, secure joint that has no movement either horizontally or vertically. This is even more important where the seasonal temperatures can range from freezing to hot. Inexpensive synthetic ice systems generally mean shortcuts somewhere.

This client now understands only too well how frustrating that can be. Do your research, understand your application, and ask the suppliers all the tough questions. Synthetic ice systems are not created equally.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Skate in Any Weather with Synthetic Ice

Synthetic ice allows you to play hockey or figure skate in any weather – and it’s far more affordable and easier to install than you might imagine. Whether you’re a serious ice-based athlete that needs to log on extra training time in your sport or just want to enjoy the fun of an outdoor skating rink all year long, a synthetic ice rink is the perfect solution. Synthetic ice rinks do not require any refrigeration and provide a realistic skating surface that’s perfect for serious training or just for fun. While you will notice a difference between synthetic ice and the real thing, your skills and level of enjoyment will still skyrocket when you practice on a home synthetic ice rink.

How Does a Synthetic Ice Skating Rink Work?

A synthetic ice skating rink uses a an engineered polymer material that mimics the look and feel of real ice, but can be used in any temperature. Because of its realistic feel and durability, the synthetic ice skating rink is the perfect choice for professional or recreational athletes, like hockey players  or figure skaters, who are away from the ice. It’s also a great option for hockey teams that need additional practice space. Synthetic ice rinks have been installed inside shopping malls or at outdoor entertainment centers and have become a huge hit – especially in warmer climates where ice skating rinks are hard to come by. Check out our blog post about a SmartRink synthetic ice rink that was installed in the Caribbean!

Creating an Even Skating Surface with Synthetic Ice Panels

With any good synthetic ice skating rink, interlocking synthetic ice panels lock together to create a large, even surface for skating. Since you need a totally smooth surface to skate on, it’s important that you find synthetic ice panels that interlock without any seams that might cause interruptions in the smooth flow of skating. With interlocking ice panels, you can create a rink as small or as large as you need. A rink made of interlocking panels can accommodate a single skater or a large crowd, depending on the size you order.

How to Find a High Quality Synthetic Ice Rink for Sale

Finding a high-quality synthetic ice rink for sale can be tough. There are many types of fake ice out there – and a lot of it is not top quality. It’s important to know what you’re buying, before you spend too much on synthetic ice rinks. A high-quality synthetic ice skating rink will provide a smooth glide that feels  similar to real ice, just a little more resistance. It will also produce little residue or excess shavings. Cheap rinks often “peel” and leave behind a lot of dusty, messy residue. This creates a A lot of extra maintenance work and can literally slow down skaters.

SmartRink panels are different than most of the competition because they’re made from Ice-Y-Blue700™ engineered material. This material is guaranteed to provide a superior skating experience, as well as a 100-percent satisfaction guaranteed promise.

 

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