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McArdle Sport-Tec - Design & Construction of artificial turf pitches & tracks

Glossary of terms

Synthetic turf pitches are also known as the following:

  • Water- Based
  • All weather pitches (AWP’s)
  • Synthetic Turf Pitches (STP’s)
  • Artificial Turf Pitches (ATP’s)
  • Multi Use Games Areas (MUGA’s)
  • Artificial Grass Pitches (AGP’s)
  • Synthetic Grass Pitches

Types of Yarn

Traditionally there are three different types of yarn used in synthetic turf:

  • Polyethylene – (PE) – Soft, durable and non-abrasive
  • Polypropylene – (PP) – Rigid, brittle and more abrasive
  • Nylon (PA) – Hardwearing, hydrophyllic

However recent innovations in extrusion technologies have enabled us to develop a new type of yarn, using fully recycled polyester (PET) flakes. 100% recycled, 100% innovative.

The Yarn manufacturing process enables different constructions of yarn to be extruded:

Monofilament (for rugby and football): individually created filaments twisted or wrapped together. Monofilaments offer increased durability, resilience and ability to cope with high usage. The manufacturing process enables the yarn to be formed in different profiles and thicknesses.

Fibrillated (ideal for rugby and football): Manufactured as a tape that is perforated lengthways to create a strong lattice structure which splits down with use to produce a multi-fibre appearance.

Knit-de-knit (ideal for hockey): Straight yarn that is given a tight curly appearance through a knitting process, producing non-directional surface.

Texturised (ideal for tennis and hockey): Straight Yarn that has been heat-set to produce a tight, curly appearance which gives a non-directional surface.

Systems and Infills:

  • Fully synthetic – An all-fibre construction with no added infill. Water is normally required when used for hockey.
  • Sand-filled – A lighter weight surface filled with high levels of sand for stability and performance.
  • Sand-dressed – A dense, heavy surface requiring some sand infill to support the fibres and add stability. It has more exposed fibre for a greener appearance.
  • Third Generation – A system containing a rubber infill for extra performance. Utilises longer fibres to hold rubber as well as sand.

Infills are divided into two categories:

  • Stabilising infills: Predominantly sand, at varying grades to weigh down the carpet and give structural integrity.
  • Performance infills: Usually rubber made from recycled sources, ground down into fine granules to prevent compaction, increase resilience and enhance playing characteristics.

Pile Characteristics:

Pile Weight:
This refers to the quantity of yarn within a square metre of product, using the number of stitches and the gauge of manufacture. Historically, the pile weight of a product has dictated the quality and price, with the heavier products demanding a higher price in return for improved performance.

Pile height:
The height of the product gives an indication of its application and format. Most football products will have a pile height of between 40mm-65mm and shockpads are required for surfaces with a pile height below 60mm. Rugby surfaces always have pile height of 65mm and are installed with a shockpad. Hockey surfaces tend to be between 10-20mm, offering different performance characteristics than the longer pile products. Generally shockpads are used in hockey.

Testing and Accreditations:

Laboratory testing –Different testing standards apply to each application:

Football surfaces can achieve three accreditation awards:

FA – Community use performance with heavy emphasis on longevity and a prerequisite for Football Foundation funding. FA have now adopted the FIFA 1 star testing standards.
FIFA 1 Star – Designed for community use and has to pass a series of stringent tests focussing particularly on durability and longevity (similar to FA standard)
FIFA 2 Star – The highest professional standard, awarded to the best performing surfaces and stadia (Designed for minimal use and requiring extensive maintenance).

Rugby surfaces have to adhere to IRB/RFU standards for full contact games and training activities. Testing measures the Head Impact Criteria (HIC), which has to be over 1.3m, ensuring player safety for full contact rugby in set pieces and open play.

Hockey has one awarding body accreditations split into two levels:

  • FIH National – the highest standard for surfaces with infill.
  • FIH Global – The highest standard for surfaces without infill.