True Performance: Artificial Turf

turfThe True Performance of your artificial turf surface is critical in protecting your students, kids and community.ASTM™ F1396 (Gmax and HIC) was first published in 1998. Since then it has undergone many revisions but the maximum allowed Gmax and HIC levels have remained at 200/1000 respectively. These limits have been established to prevent catastrophic (fatal) injuries. While they may be beneficial in preventing less sever injuries, like concussions, there is no proof at this time that supports this. In addition to ASTM F1396, some turf field are now including FIFA performance levels in their specifications. We are one of the few labs with equipment capable of measuring Force Reduction, Vertical Deformation, and Energy Restitution according to the FIFA™.

While facilities in North America sometimes include FIFA performance levels in their specifications, conducting on site validation testing is expensive. This is because normally if a facility wants onsite FIFA type testing they must rely on a FIFA approved lab, and this approval process involves significant time and expense on the part of the lab. At this time ASET is not a FIFA approved lab, meaning that we do not need to recoup those expenses. We offer an alternative to an official FIFA certification for a field that will never actually see FIFA level competition.

So what are the most common reasons for a playground not to meet Gmax and HIC requirements? We have included just a few examples.

  • Insufficient material installed: Systems call for precise amounts of infill material. If less than the specified amount is applied then the safety of the installation can be compromised. Our testing shows that as little as 1/4″ of material can be the difference between passing and failing most of the standards above. Measuring infill depth and application rates can be difficult given the design of modern synthetic turf systems.
  • Improper components: One would expect performance differences when the materials installed at the field differ from those provided to the lab. Improper components can range from rubber with different hardness levels to correct rubber that is simply bigger than or smaller than specified.
  • Improper Installation: Infill materials are often of blend of 2 materials (rubber and sand), simply blending these materials in a different ratio can alter system performance and safety levels. Then there  are cases where the infill is not evenly distributed across the playing field.
  • Improper Maintenance: Most of today’s systems include loose infill materials. These can migrate around the system through natural and mechanical ‘erosion’ processes. Grooming the field too often or the wrong direction can move material from one location to another causing thickly and thinly infilled areas.

The performance of your synthetic or artificial turf impacts a your students, kids and community. True Performance testing is the only way to be certain that it performs and protects as promised. Contact us today to develop your custom True Performance program for your new or existing sport surface.

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