September 30th, 2014
Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company was the first company to make use of the artificial turf. This was back in the 1940’s. The turf was made from rubber and it was made for athletes. The athletes trained on it. By using it, their performance was optimised and the risks minimised. After this, the company made the ‘3M’ turf which is in use until today.
A man named Chemstrand is known to have come up with the artificial grass also 20 years after the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company did. He was a businessman in the nineteen sixties. Chemstrand and his teamates wanted to come up with an artificial playing surfaces to be used for athletic activities. Their idea was to create a ‘tough carpet’. The ford foundation approched them. For Ford Foundation, they wanted to get a solution for urban sports surfaces. Chemstrand continued working on the idea for the next five years.
It is very difficult to come across natural grass in the urban areas yet some sports are played on grass surfaces. Parents are particularly concerned for ther children for they want them to play and enjoy the games. However, this is hindered by lack of grassy areas in the urban areas. For this reason, Ford prompted Chemstrand to research and create an urban spaorts surface. Of all the varities that Chemstrand came up with, one of them is in use today.
In 1964, the first largescale synthetic turf installation was done in Rhode island at the Moses Brown school. This was to give the children some playing ground since there were no green spane in the area. unlike other materials that were used to provide playground surfaces like concrete, the turf was safe for children.
A historical event happened in 1966 when Houston Astrodome installed the chemgrass. This was a breakthrough for the use of the turf in stadiums. Houston Astrodome is the home to Houston Oilers(a footballer) and Houston Astros( a baseball player). Other stadiums started using the turf and in 1967,it was patented in the United states. The turf was renamed ‘Astr Turf’. John A Wortman, an employee of chemgrass is responsible for the name change. By associating the turf with the famous Astrodome, it gained a lot of popularity.
The tactic bore fruits again in 1976 when it was used in Montreal by the American Hockey for the olympics. The Prince of wales installed the turf in his garage to protect his 4×4 bio-diesel system.
Over the years, the turf has evolved over many generations. A generation in this context are stages of evolution of the artificial grass.
- The first generation did not have an infill and it used short-pile fibres
- Second generation turfs included sand as their infill
- A mixture of recylcled rubber and sand were used in making the third generation turf. At a distance, you can hardly distinguish it from real grass.
Though not yet approved, the 4th, 5th and 6th generation turfs are said to be already in existence.The 4th generation is like the3rd generation but it does not have an infill. Rubber infill is used on the carpet’s surfacing for the 5th generation turf. There are no known characteristic for the 6th generation untill now. But it is definitely better than the others.
When the turf came into use, there were some complains. The initial turf was very hard and player complained that it caused injuries that were more serious than those suffered on grass surface. The players named it the unforgiving playing surface. At some point, it was considered aesthetically unappealing. Actually by early 1990’s many North American Football Associations went back to natural grass.
The challenges set the stage for more advancements between 1990 and 2000. Different infills were used and this greatly improved the playing experience. As the turf’s popularity increased, many companies joined in to make them. Competition further enhanced the use of better technology when making the turfs.The turfs have been used in landscaping, airport runaways, a training ground in Tokyo on top of an apartment,motor embarkments and on a ski run in Portugal.