Since synthetic ice is making such a huge impression on hockey players and other ice skaters around the world a lot of curious people are asking what it is made out of. Since it is so durable, long-lasting, and easy to skate on, synthetic ice flooring is popping up in millions of homes around the nation. But, what is it made out of? Some secret high-tech scientific discovery stuff that nobody is supposed to know about? Not quite.
Early Synthetic Ice
Back in the ‘60s is when synthetic ice made its first appearance in the world. At first, the material was made from a primitive polymer plastic known as polyoxymethylene plastic. This is a low-density polymer that is a bit softer than the flooring that is available on the market today. Back then, the synthetic ice surface had to be constantly lubricated with a silicone compound so that the skaters could actually skate across it. Otherwise, it would have been a lot like skating on the linoleum flooring that was in your great grandparents’ kitchens.
Since the 1960s a lot has changed and the way that synthetic ice is manufactured has evolved tremendously. The artificial ice of the modern day is still made out of polymer plastic, but now they have high density and ultra-high density polymers that can be made with self-lubricating substances in order for skaters to be able to glide across the surface much like they would on ice.
Synthetic Ice Compared to Real Ice
Back when synthetic ice first came out there was absolutely no comparison between the two. However, the technology of today has not failed to get pretty close to the real deal with ice. When skaters skate across ice their skate blades cause the surface of the ice to melt. The water creates a natural lubricant for the skates so that they can easily and effortlessly glide across the surface. With this new kind of synthetic ice flooring engineers have been able to formulate a type of flooring that emits lubricant as the skaters glide across it. It is a lot like real ice in the sense that it lubricates itself and can allow for decent skating with a very small amount of resistance and drag.
There is a slight drag that skaters notice when they skate on artificial ice as opposed to real ice, but it is not enough of a drag to stop them from skating. In fact, a little bit of extra drag and resistance helps to build muscle strength and endurance.
Polymers and plastics go hand in hand, but they are not the same. Polymers do not need plastics in order to exist, but plastics do need polymers. Polymers can create plastics that have stronger molecular bonds than other types of plastics so that they can form products such as flooring and other surfaces that are subject to frequent abuse and heat. Synthetic ice is made out of polymers that can contain special lubricating compounds that help to maintain the structure of the flooring panel, as well as provide a constant supply of lubricant that never has to be replenished by adding sprays or other additives.
So in response to the original question, what is synthetic ice made of? Artificial ice is made out of highly processed plastic that is built to last. The flooring is hard and strong enough to skate on, practice on and even use a balance board for hockey to build the core. The best part about it is that it can be installed practically anywhere that has a hard flat surface and enough room to move around on.
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