Synthetic Ice Industry Evolution and Misconceptions
Posted by KwikRink
Throughout the years, the synthetic ice industry has evolved and grown quite substantially. Back in 1996, we were the first company to bring the product to the hockey market. At that time, there was not much to it besides a hard plastic that you can skate on. It certainly worked for skating, and people seemed to be in awe when seeing it for the first time, although it would not have been considered high performing. Fast forward to today, and the synthetic ice surface becomes a complex chemistry formula (at least for our company). This evolution has created a very realistic alternative surface for ice skating.
There are many misconceptions about the synthetic ice industry. As the experts in this space, I would like to touch on some of those.
The first of which is that, not all synthetic ice surfaces are created equally. The synthetic surfaces themselves may look the same, but it is really about what the synthetic has “under the hood.” If you are looking at a new Ferrari, one with an engine, and one without, which one is better? I am assuming you want to hit the Autobann with the engine equipped Ferrari!
The next big one I hear has to do with a technical term known as the “coefficient of friction” test. It sounds very scientific, and you could certainly be persuaded that this rating can tell you how awesome the synthetic surface is! Wrong. There is no scientific test that correlates to how it will perform on ice skates. The only way to find out what works best, is to use the ancient “guess and check” method with real skaters. Although, it is not so much guess, as it is the tweaking of a current formula. The key is to find the right balance of hardness and lubricant.
Some companies have switched over to a UHMW plastic, which is very expensive, but not necessarily better. The problem with these types of plastic is that they constantly bleed out lubricants (kids may be allergic), and will eventually become a dead cutting board with no lubricants left inside of the panel. There isn’t any off-the-shelf plastic that is good for ice skating. It must be created.
KwikRink uses our own proprietary formula when manufacturing our panels. Our goal is to provide a synthetic ice surface that skates the best in the world. We are hockey people, providing a high end product to other hockey people.