An artificial grass’ backing system is responsible for supporting the dimensional stability, tuft bind, and longevity of the finished product, but the exact combination of the various types of primary and secondary components greatly impacts the durability of a given grass.
We’re discussing some advancements in manufacturing technology and methodology for artificial grass backing systems – the newer and improved primary and secondary components: Silverback, Eco Cell, and ArmorLoc 3L. Both are of a proprietary design and, as a system, create some of the toughest grasses available on the market.
Scott Lowrie, CEO of Controlled Products, developed Silverback as an alternative to traditional means of secondary application and design. Classic manufacturing methods will use greater amounts of urethane or latex coatings to achieve a stronger backing – depending on what’s referred to as a mechanical bond between the primary and secondary layers. But Scott was able to identify a way in which to save on manufacturing costs yet still produce a superior product – by creating a system that focused on chemical bonds instead. A chemical bond is an inherent attraction between specific components with molecular structures that cohere and bind very well together. The polyester/propylene blend in ArmorLoc 3L backings and the polyurethane in Silverback coatings are examples of such cohesive combinations.
Additionally, Silverback has a lowered viscosity, which allows it to fit through and fill in gaps between the tufted fibers and primary backing, revealing more surface material to chemically bond to. In contrast, older technology applies an aerated secondary layer that is too frothy to seep through those gaps, causing the product to be more susceptible to loss of tuft bind and mechanical degradation over time. Other manufacturers also often use higher filler counts in their secondary coatings, whereas Silverback uses fewer filler materials in a higher grade of urethane.
The result is a chemically bound backing system that is proven stronger, longer-lasting, and more durable than competing products.
EcoCell, while not new to the PG product lineup and a primary component in several of our grass’s backing systems, is also integrated into the Silverback coating for a more positive impact on the environment. EcoCell derives from a natural vegetable oil pressed from castor beans, an ingredient commonly found in food preservatives, medicine, skincare, and hair care. Making up 25% of Silverback’s solution, EcoCell is a sustainable, bio-based additive that allows us to replace a percentage of nonrenewable petroleum-based oils that would be used otherwise.
What’s going to be most distinguishable about ArmorLoc 3L is its construction. With traditional manufacturing, the two to three layers in a primary backing would be held together solely by the sewn fibers, but this resulted in a backing system vulnerable to excess movement over time. This primary backing material uses three layers of a polypropylene and polyester blend that are woven and stitched together before the tufting process, and the layers are arranged in such a way that the direction of each’s filaments are intersecting in different directions, producing a non-directional primary backing material. The outcome of this design was three distinct feats – the first being increased dimensional stability.
While temperatures rise and lower, the multidirectional layers in ArmorLoc 3L resist expansion and contraction, also referred to as “creep”. Because each layer expands and contracts only in the direction of their filaments and each layer is woven into one another in opposite directions, the layers work against each other to create significantly less movement and a much more dimensionally stable product. Furthermore, in addition to the multidirectional layers, the ArmorLoc 3L backing has an increased overall stitch count, which also reinforces the dimensional stability.
The second significant achievement of ArmorLoc is its ability to support a stronger tuft bind. Due to the primary backing layers being woven together, this causes a “self-healing” effect during the tufting process. The nature of woven and weft filaments is to return back together when disjointed, so as needles puncture the backing to tuft a bundle of fiber through, the woven polyester and polypropylene filaments compress back around the fiber to lock it in.
And lastly, ArmorLoc 3L backings greatly improve moisture and rot resistance. On top of it being fully permeable, the polyester layers are a non-absorbent synthetic material, further reducing the likelihood of moisture soaking and rotting the backing.
The Bottom Line
Individually, ArmorLoc 3L and Silverback have forever changed the course of artificial grass manufacturing, but their strength truly shines when brought together. The marriage of ArmorLoc and Silverback has produced a backing system proven to be the best in dimensional stability, tuft bind, tear strength, and ease of installation.
Products utilizing this backing system have greatly reduced their risk of wrinkles, expansion, and shrinking once installed, as well as any potential for “creep”. This system is also fully permeable and achieves an extremely high tear strength – excellent for sport applications.
Because the ArmorLoc backing is woven and stitched and Silverback soaks into the weave and weft of ArmorLoc, and then bonds chemically, it creates a more pliable turf to allow for straighter cuts with less fray – making this the preferred backing system by installers. Then, with the addition of EcoCell, this improved system comes full circle, answering to the environmental impacts of manufacturing by substituting a nonrenewable resource with a sustainable one.
The Purchase Green grasses utilizing this backing system are each of the Eco grasses – in both the Spring and Olive color combinations for all face weights – as well as some products new to our lineup – Playtime, VMax, Pet Heaven, and Soft Landing.