New Material Reduces Wear And Tear At Skate Parks



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Countless numbers of people visit skate parks each day to practice jumps and have some fun, but all the friction from skateboard and skate tires, not to mention impacts from rider spills, takes its toll on ramps and half pipes. At Father Marinaro Skateboarding Park in Butler, Pa., for example, which opened in 2003, the plywood used to construct ramps and curved surfaces at the skate park is already splintered and failing after just two seasons of use. Recently, damaged curved sections of the park's half-pipe ramps were replaced with SkatePlate 3000, a new natural fiber-reinforced composite sheet material manufactured by Norplex-Micarta (Postville, Iowa). A wood-based natural fiber paper substrate, supplied by Mead Westvaco Corp. (Stamford, Conn.), is impregnated with a two-stage phenol formaldehyde resin from Ashland Specialty Chemicals Co. - Composite Polymers Div. (Dublin, Ohio). The 1.2m by 2.4m by 6.35-mm thick (4 ft by 8 ft by 0.25-inch thick) sheets are cured in a high-pressure laminating process. While 6.35 mm/0.25-inch is the standard thickness, sheets can be made thicker by request. Norplex-Micarta says that the material is generally purchased as a thin composite skin to overlay a base structure. The material forms a tough, non-splintering surface that the company says will provide long service life, abrasion- and moisture-resistance as well as surface characteristics that provide skateboard, skate and bike wheels reasonable traction yet permit skaters and stunt bikers to perform controlled slips when desired.

SkatePlate 3000 has already been installed in several other skate parks throughout the U.S., and, according to the company, soon will be used to cover the remaining sections of the Father Marinaro facility. The sheets can be bonded to frames or subsurfaces with adhesives, nails and/or screws, and are flexible enough to be applied to a curved base. Though targeted to skate parks, SkatePlate is a product line in Norplex-Micarta's construction product family, and can be used in any interior/exterior application that requires wear-and-weather resistance.


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