The term “heavy duty synthetic ice” is misused, abused, over represented and generally not well understood by potential buyers and customers. This article is going to clear all that up for you (and probably my competitors as well).
Heavy duty synthetic ice is defined by the following characteristics:
- The type of connection system
- The strength of the connection system
- The durability of the material
- The panel thickness
You see the industry has this false idea that if a product is thicker then we can call it “heavy duty” without any regard to the other criteria listed above. A thicker product does not make it heavy duty. You can have a product 3/4″ thick but using a weak dovetail or jigsaw puzzle connection system where the joint is completely vulnerable to vertical separation. There is nothing heavy duty about that. Yet most competitors offer this. If the joint separates even a little vertically you have just created a very unsafe skating condition. And the larger the rink the bigger the potential problem can be because of expansion and contraction forces. Bad things can happen with temperature changes when the wrong connection system is used.
I have seen it and know of applications where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent only to have the complete rink taken apart never to be used again.
In the image above it shows a connection system known as the H-Tongue or H-Spline system. My competitors hate it and scoff at it and call it old technology etc. The fact is this connection system has been around a while (30 years) and was even patented. But when it comes to connection strength this product is the “mother of all heavy duty synthetic ice” connection systems. Why? It can not be separated vertically or horizontally (unless you actually understand how to take it apart). Any monkey can take apart what most companies call a heavy duty system…not only that but they can easily be vandalized and even stolen if they are in outside public spaces (that’s happened too!).
We actually test and have lab verified results for the strength of our heavy duty synthetic ice connection systems. I would love to compare results with other companies…but the reality is that we also sell a jigsaw puzzle / dovetail system as well – but we are not so naive that we are going to call it “heavy duty” because we know better. The bottom line is that certain products are better suited for certain applications. There is no one size fits all in this business – so please don’t fall for that type of marketing or salesmanship.
If you are considering buying synthetic ice as a business operator, a hockey training center, a community public rink or something similar then you really should be concerned about panel joint separation. Not only could you prevent a potential safety issue but possibly even avoid potential liability concerns. We have three “heavy duty synthetic ice” connection systems that can be discussed and we would consult with you about your intended application before we made a recommendation.
If you are serious about wanting to put in the best products to get the best results over the very long term then you owe it to yourself to consider a true heavy duty synthetic ice connection system. Read about how important it is to do your research when choosing the brand and type of synthetic ice rink for you.