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An Effective Pad for Synthetic Surfaces
By Michael Miyamoto, LASN



Club la Santa is a holiday and sport resort on the island of Tenerife, off the coast of Spain. The playground there has a "shock pad" underneath the synthetic turf that the manufacturer says greatly increases the "critical fall height" of the surface. Artificial turf is a surface of synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and commercial applications as well. The main reason is maintenance--artificial turf stands up to heavy use, such as in sports, and requires no irrigation or trimming. Domed, covered, and partially covered stadiums may require artificial turf because of the difficulty of getting grass enough sunlight.

A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in May 2016 suggests concussions are on the rise among children -- and that a sizable number of these happen on the playground.

Poured-in-place safety surfacing is the most popular solution; rubber tiles are also sometimes specified. These surfaces are low maintenance and offer customized colors and designs to fit the theme of the playground. Synthetic turf is becoming ever popular worldwide.

Schmitz Foam Products in the Netherlands manufactures and markets a "shock pad" that is laid underneath synthetic turf and greatly increases the "critical fall height" of the surface, according to the manufacturer.

The company is an international supplier of shock absorbing and drainage products for synthetic turf. Its products have been specifically developed for soccer, rugby, hockey and multiuse sports fields -- as well as playgrounds.

Artificial turf first gained substantial attention in the 1960s, when it was used in the newly constructed Astrodome. The specific product used was developed by Monsanto and called AstroTurf. First generation turf systems consisted of short-pile fibers without infill. Second generation synthetic turf systems feature longer fibers and sand infills, and third generation systems, which are most widely used today, have infills with mixtures of sand and granules of recycled rubber.

"When combined with a ProPlay shock and drainage pad underneath, playgrounds have a long lasting surface, with critical fall heights certified up to 3.3 meters," said Wiebe van Terwisga, the company's marketing director.

Critical fall height (CFH) relates to the surface material and is "the maximum height from which a life threatening head injury would not be expected to occur," van Terwisga said, adding that "CFHs of up to 12 feet are achievable."

The maximum CFH allowed in Europe is 3.0 meters. The company uses this formula for its ProPlay pads: 3.0 meters, two pads, each 45 mm thick; 2.7 meters, two 35 mm pads; 2.3 meters, one 55 mm pad; 2.1 meters, a 45 mm pad; 1.7 meters, a 35 mm pad; and 1.3 meters, one 25 mm pad.

As seen in LASN magazine, October 2016.

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October 17, 2019, 6:35 am PDT

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