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Innovation in multifunctional artificial turf fields for sports: Development of new concepts using a new predictive design tool

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One turf, many uses

Artificial turf fields for various sports are becoming more and more attractive across the EU. An EU-funded project has developed a design tool for artificial turf that will accommodate multisport, multi-user and multipurpose needs and requirements.

Industrial Technologies

Today, the advantages of artificial turf - longer duration, constant performance and use across different climates - are for the most part restricted to specialised fields for specific sports. Local communities, schools and sports facilities could benefit from multifunctional, more general-use fields that don't compromise on sport and safety needs. This calls for advances in existing related technologies and the development of new concepts. The 'Innovation in multifunctional artificial turf fields for sports: Development of new concepts using a new predictive design tool' (Multiturf) project sought to innovate in this area with the development of a design tool that would be able to tailor functional and technical requirements for multi-use artificial turf fields. This has the potential to bypass trial and error experiments and render field development more economical by taking products to market in a shorter time. Project partners took a user-centred research approach to determine the needs and requirements of users for optimal performance as well as safety. Another primary focus was placed on the cooperation of all across the production chain as well as those involved in sports and technology. Developing new concepts for multifunctional artificial turf fields took into consideration multisport, multi-user and multipurpose concepts. Project partners wanted to realise a safe and functional surface for adults as well as children. To produce such new concepts, research into new material and construction technologies resulted in innovations in materials and field construction. Team members developed an information database that included requirements for relevant sports fields, constructions currently used and standard test methods for specific sports. The design tool that was developed enables the prediction of an artificial turf field's most critical properties, such as shock absorption, head injury criterion (HIC) and ball bounce. On selection of field construction details, the design tool automatically calculates force reduction, energy restitution, deformation, HIC-value and ball re-bounce. Tool predictions were compared with laboratory experiments and, within boundaries, revealed very good resemblance. Other project activities generated new knowledge on material and constructions and the interaction of field construction parts. The latter was useful during development of the football-hockey system where a new heating structure, placed under the grass carpet, offers extended use of artificial turf fields in Scandinavia. Partners also managed to reduce the installation costs with the development of a sub-base layer more than half the size thinner than those usually used.

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