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 Sheets (VHMW)
Generally speaking the synthetic ice pricing will be greater per panel where the material is VHMWPe or UHMWPe (Very High and Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene). 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 (Low Density or High Density Polyethylene). Molecular weight is typically measure in grams/mole.
Extruded VS 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.
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 consider going with the company that offers a free trial: which we do! You can use the product before making a decision – and 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.