In the 2012 / 2013 season the premier league club Heracles Almelo will be playing on an innovative synthetic turf pitch from TenCate, which is based on patented weaving technology. This is the first official synthetic turf pitch in which a number of new developments have been combined, resulting in optimum ball and playing performance and full recyclability of the pitch. The club has thus achieved a world first. These technological developments will also be used for the main pitch in the new Heracles Almelo stadium that is to be built.
TenCate has been working on innovative, multilayer, three-dimensional weaving technology, which enables a number of characteristics in a sports pitch to be combined. Through its partners such as GreenFields and Edel Grass, TenCate has gained experience in the production and installation of woven synthetic turf products. All the available technological innovations will be combined in the new pitch.
Sport and quality characteristics
A significant further improvement compared with the present generation of synthetic turf pitches relates to the sport characteristics. Certain synthetic fibres may in the course of time start to flatten, as the result of for example the impact of long-term use, which, apart from a loss of playing performance can also give the pitch an artificial appearance. The elastic fibres interwoven into the new construction will continue to be resilient despite the impact of long-term use. These fibres will also take over part of the function of the infill. Certain fibres in the tufts of grass cover the infill better. The innovative matrix weaving pattern has moreover a positive effect on the rotational resistance of the player’s feet.
A great additional advantage of this weaving technology is that the fibres of the synthetic turf pitch show better bonding, because the fibres in the matrix weaving construction are interwoven into the top layer. This aspect will also benefit the sustainability of the synthetic turf pitch.
Sustainability and the environment
The TenCate weaving technology makes it easier to use exclusively raw materials of the same material type, so that the pitch in its entirety can be recycled cost effectively. The new pitch will satisfy the highest FIFA standards, making it suitable for professional football teams at the highest level.
Characteristics of natural grass
The optical characteristics of the pitch have been greatly improved. For a premier league club this is vital, since its matches can be followed on television. Football pitches require a synthetic (polyolefin) infill in order to achieve the desired sport characteristics. However, when excessive infill is used, some players find this troublesome. The new concept represents a marked improvement on this point because the grass fibres provide better coverage of the infill.
The new pitch consists of tightly packed, individual ‘tufts of grass’, which are made up of fibres of a different structure and composition. The advanced weaving technology allows a number of grass yarns to be combined and these are positioned randomly in the top layer. Unlike traditional tuft technology, this new weaving technology makes it possible to weave the yarns into each structure and with varying distances into the pitch, thus preventing the formation of stripes. It will give the pitch a very natural appearance, in this way achieving greatly improved ball behaviour.
The construction patented by TenCate such as the one that will be used for Heracles Almelo will be brought to market as a GreenFields® system. TenCate will put synthetic turf products based on this weaving technology on the market through several of its partners, in order to achieve broad geographic distribution. These partners work together globally with local affiliated installers.
‘In the past a loose natural grass tuft could affect the final score in a negative way. We can now state that the synthetic turf tuft as we produce it will make a positive difference’, says Hugo de Vries, commercial director of GreenFields. ‘Unlike traditional tuft methods, the new weaving technology enables us to incorporate larger tufts of synthetic turf with a different structure and height into the top layer. This gives a very natural effect, without the disadvantages of a natural grass pitch.’
For companies such as GreenFields as well as for installers the marketing of this weaving concept will also reduce the risk. The product is produced by a single party as a complete product, with fewer critical production steps. Hugo de Vries: ‘The fact that TenCate is responsible for the entire production process means that end-users will have a greater degree of confidence in the performance and sustainability of the top layer. GreenFields too is constantly engaged in innovating synthetic turf systems and in improving its quality. This innovation process has been strengthened thanks to the intensive collaboration with TenCate.’
Specifications of the new synthetic turf system (Dutch version)
Royal Ten Cate
Almelo, the Netherlands, Thursday 19 April 2012