Schottenbauer Publishing

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Comparing Real & Synthetic Ice

Synthetic ice is a popular, low-cost alternative to real ice rinks. Available in several forms and quality levels, synthetic ice usually consists of a slippery plastic surface which mimics the performance of real ice. 

How good is synthetic ice? The following graphs, excerpted from Glide, Spin, & Jump: The Science of Ice Skating: Volume 1: Extended Edition, compare the performance of a sharpened figure skate on real ice and HDPE synthetic ice.

Discussion Questions
  1. Compare the force line in each graph, using words. What is one major qualitative difference between the graphs? 
  2. In the second graph, what is the minimum force? Is the real force ever less than 0? Why or why not? 
  3. Why is force applied before the skate moves? Does this force contribute to velocity? At what point does force contribute to acceleration and velocity? 
  4. In the first graph, what is the maximum force? The maximum position? Velocity? Acceleration? 
  5. In the second graph, what is the maximum force? The maximum position? Velocity? Acceleration? 
  6. In each graph, calculate the range of time in which skate movement occurs. Which is larger?
  7. The second graph claims that the skate has been pulled 1 meter. What is the evidence for or against this assertion? (Hint: How long is the skate?) 
  8. What force is required to pull the skate 1 meter on synthetic ice? On real ice? Which force is larger?

The following books from Schottenbauer Publishing contain similar types of graphs and data pertaining to the science of ice skating, figure skating, and hockey:

  • The Science of Ice Skating 
    • Volume 1: Translational Motion
    • Volume 2: Rotational Motion (Curves)
    • Volume 3: Rotational Motion (Spins)
    • Volume 4: Jumps
    • Volume 5: Ice Hockey
    • Volume 6: Biophysics
    • Volume 7: Video Analysis
    • Volume 8: Reference Manual
  • The Science of Hockey
    • Volume 1: Force, Acceleration, & Video Analysis of Pucks & Balls
    • Volume 2: Force & Acceleration of Sticks, plus Biophysics
    • Volume 3: Video Analysis of Ice, Field, & Street Hockey Sticks
    • The Science of Figure Skating
    • The Science of Ice Hockey
    • The Science of Winter Olympic Sports

    In addition, the following books are suitable for younger children learning geometry:

    • The Geometry of Figure Skating
    • The Geometry of Winter Olympic Sports 

    A simple demonstration of one type of synthetic ice is available below, in the YouTube video My First Ice Rink. This synthetic ice consists of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE), one of the least expensive surfaces manufactured in the USA. In fact, 3/16" x 48" x 96" HDPE sheets from US Plastics Corporation sold for approximately $2 per square foot in 2014. 

    While high-quality synthetic ice may cost $16 per square foot or more, one variety of Ultra-High Density Polyethlene (UHDPE) is available low-cost from Dezhou Shengtong Rubber & Plastic Co., Ltd. in China. According to price estimates in February 2015, an Olympic-sized synthetic ice rink (100x200 ft, UHDPE with sideboards) is available from China to East Coast USA w/shipping (not including import tax) for only $22,000! 

    Additional videos demonstrating HDPE synthetic ice are available on the Skating Science Playlist.