Sinter Pressed Synthetic Ice Panels

SmartRink Synthetic Ice…how can synthetic ice be so different?

You keep reading about all these synthetic ice products – so what about SmartRink Synthetic Ice? What makes it different? Why do we claim SmartRink Synthetic Ice is unique?  Is it really a better performing product?

The fact is that SmartRink Synthetic Ice is different from all other synthetic ice products. I recently attended a sports trade show in Germany – the biggest show of it’s kind every two years. There were four suppliers of synthetic ice at this show – mine was not on display at this show. For the record none of these suppliers are the actual manufacturer of the material – some suppliers would have their clients believe this is an important factor when it comes to synthetic ice but frankly it’s mostly irrelevant in my opinion. I skated on all four products using the same borrowed skates. I am not going to mention any brands here in this post but one of them was clearly a superior product in terms of it’s glide performance. I am aware of the company who manufactures this product. There was also one product that in my opinion was at the bottom of my list in terms of performance. The other two companies I would say were very close – and also quite good in terms of performance. What was really ironic I thought was that the product on the bottom of my list was also the only one I was familiar with competitively. They are an aggressive, slick marketing company and they appear to be well financed also. But now after skating on this product I can confidently say they do not have the best product, in fact not even close to it. So what was the value in skating on these synthetic ice products? It confirmed to me that SmartRink synthetic ice is in fact different and unique.

So what makes SmartRink synthetic ice so unique?

SmartRink uses sinter pressed synthetic ice panels. I believe that at least two possibly even three of the products I skated on were also sinter pressed. The fourth one may have been but it was so obviously a lower quality material. The tell tale sign of a higher molecular weight sinter pressed material is how much residue comes off the surface and sticks to your skate blades. I used this test on each of the four products. In the case of the “worst” product at this show I wiped off a significant amount of plastic residue off the blades. In the case of the “best” product there was almost none.  The two other products that were fairly close in performance there was minimal residue. In comparison when you skate on SmartRink sinter pressed synthetic ice panels there is also almost no residue to wipe off the skate blade.

So what is so special about sinter pressed synthetic ice panels?

From a North American perspective sinter pressing is practically non existent when it comes to synthetic ice. Of the products I tested at this show the “worst” product may indeed be sinter pressed but if it is the material is almost certainly pressed using a low molecular weight resin. By comparison the SmartRink synthetic ice material has several grades of popular skating material – neither of which sheds residue like the one I skated on in Germany. The vast majority of products offered in North America are extruded material. By the nature of the extrusion process the material used in extruded synthetic ice material is a lower molecular weight as a higher molecular weight resin will not work with this process. Sinter pressing on the other hand is not restricted in this way.

So suffice to say, SmartRink synthetic ice is likely not the only product in the world that uses sinter pressed material. To the best of my knowledge however, it may be the only one offered in North America at the time of writing this – or at very least, the only one using an optimal molecular weight resin that results in a superior skating performance. So performance is certainly important to the skater, but so it abrasion resistance. That means the material will stand up to skating over a longer period of time – it will last longer. North American producers claim that their products are superior. Well I would challenge any North American seller of synthetic ice to take their standard offered panels to a third party lab, and I will do the same and run standard tests that will prove my points on both skating performance and abrasion resistance.

So is there something else that makes SmartRink synthetic ice a unique product? Absolutely. Our ProFast line of engineered material is not off the rack polyethylene sheet simply machined into synthetic ice panels. This trademarked ice-y-blue700 material is unique. This is a Very High Molecular Weight Pe resin mixed with slip additives that improve the overall glide and efficiency of this skating material. We have tested this material to be significantly less effort to skate on verses other popular molecular weights used in synthetic ice skating material such as HDPe as example.

The factory actually developed a standard testing method using a weighted skate. You can see an image of this test on the home page of our SmartRink synthetic ice website. Using a weighted skate test the factory lab measures the force or “skating effort” required to move the weighted skate blade across certain material.

Our competitors do not like this test because most of them use extruded material and this test could make products look bad. From our perspective however, it is the only fair test to measure a products performance. There are standard industry tests for material abrasion resistance, notched impact resistance, and coefficient of friction – but unfortunately these are not as relevant directly to skating performance. These tests were developed for non-skating, standard industrial specifications where this type of material is frequently utilized.

At SmartRink synthetic ice we want our potential customers to understand what it is they are buying and what kind of thought went into our product because we are proud of it. We want people to clearly understand the difference between a sinter pressed product and an extruded product. We want you to be educated. You may still buy someone else’s product, but at least we hope you understand the trade off.

I will end this post on a humorous note from the sport show in Germany. Not knowing who I was, I asked one of my competitors what the material was made of and was told it was “secret”. I chuckled because I knew that response was coming. That’s what they always say.

Good luck in your research, and as always, if you need help with your decision on what product will work best for you please call us toll free at 1-855-461-7465 or send us an email at info@smartrink.com

 

 

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