The evolution of artificial grass
The manufacturing technology of artificial grass has evolved enormously: artificial grass can now be used in the most various situations.
Sand infill applications
To keep the look of artificial grass as realistic as possible, it is important that the piles remain upright.
The first generations of artificial grass were the typical green mats that did not look natural at all.
To obtain a natural look, artificial grass with long fibres is produced. The downside of this is that the fibres don’t stay upright by themselves. To support the fibres, the grass is sand-filled.
The sand infill will allow a more intensive use of the artificial grass mat. For sporting applications, the artificial grass used is virtually always the sand infill type. The sand makes the grass mat extra heavy, so it cannot move, it supports the piles and it adds extra bounce for ball sports.
Rubber granules can be used as infill as well.
In 2008, research was done into finding a way to use long piles without the use of sand infill.
The solution was to work with a frizzy fibre in the artificial grass mat. By adding this fibre to the long fibres, a full and appealing artificial grass mat is obtained. In this type of artificial grass, the frizzy fibre supports the straight fibre.
Omitting the sand infill increases the number applications for which artificial grass can be used:
• In a garden
• On a balcony or roof terrace
• For smaller surfaces
• For indoor applications
• In a showroom
• On a fair
• For temporary applications (when the artificial grass needs to be moved)
Types of artificial grass fibres
Artificial grass fibres can be produced with three types of polymers: polypropylene, polyethylene and polyamide.
When artificial grass was first introduced, only polypropylene was used. Nowadays, this material is still used, but its quality is slightly inferior and it is mainly used for cheaper types of artificial grass.
Polyethylene and polyamide are frequently used for artificial grass for residential applications. Polyamide is a type of nylon that absorbs moisture when exposed to the weather, making the grass more voluminous and pushing the long pile upright with the frizzed fibre.
The history of artificial grass
Artificial grass was first introduced in the sixties as an alternative for natural grass on sports pitches. Since its early beginnings, artificial grass has continually evolved. In the eighties, for instance, a skin friendly product was introduced.
The first artificial grass applications date back to 1964 – 1968. They were marketed under the name Astroturf. The natural grass in the well-known Astrodome Baseball Stadium in Texas (USA) was replaced by artificial grass, the so-called Astroturf.
In these early stages, artificial grass was mainly used on hockey pitches and tennis courts and only later on football pitches. In football pitches, long pile artificial grass is used. In order to keep these long piles upright and to comply with certain sport technical standards, the artificial grass is filled with sand and/or rubber granules.
In the nineties, the Americans were first to use artificial grass for landscaping. In the year 2000, artificial grass for landscaping ends was first introduced in Europe. This type of artificial grass has nice, soft, long piles.
Since 2008, there are non-infill types too. These consist of long piles with extra frizzy fibres as a support, so the grass can remain upright. Infill is no longer necessary. The pioneer in the development of these systems is Namgrass artificial grass.
In short, it is a common misconception to confuse the newest generation of artificial grass with the bright green turf mats that are often seen in garden centres or DIY stores...
The production of Namgrass artificial grass
Namgrass itself is responsible for the complete quality, production and distribution process. This way, it can vouch for a 100% Belgian product.
The manufacturing technology of artificial grass has evolved enormously and artificial grass can thus be used in various situations.
Synthetic granules as raw material
Synthetic granules made of polypropylene, polyethylene or polyamide are the base of artificial grass.
• Each material has its own characteristics and qualities.
• Polyethylene is the most common polymer for artificial grass in residential applications.
UV stabilisers are added to these synthetic granules for their resistance to bright sunlight.
The mixture of artificial granules and UV stabilisers is heated and pressed through an extruder head under pressure. After this process, the grass fibres are reinforced. They are made resistant to strong tractive force and temperature fluctuations between -50°C and +50°C.
Pressing the fibres
There are two types of artificial grass fibres, depending on the shape of the extruder head: fibrillated yarns and monofilament yarns.
The fibrillated yarns have a honeycomb structure. They are cheaper type and are mainly used for sports and leisure applications.
Monofilament yarns have a very natural look and are often bundled into one grass pile.
Coiling the fibres
The artificial grass fibres / yarns are then coiled around big spools or bobbins.
Tufting the fibres
The spools are placed on a machine that tufts the yarns in loops on a backing over a width of four metres. These are then cut to a certain length so that the look of a grass mat is obtained. To avoid any manufacturing errors, this is checked and if necessary corrected by hand immediately.
Fixing the fibres
To firmly secure the fibres, they are fixed to the backing with a thick layer of liquid latex. The latex is hardened and the straightness or frizziness of the fibres is determined in an 80 metres long oven. This determines the look and feel of the grass mat. This procedure also makes the artificial grass resistant against various weather conditions.
Hardening and perforating the grass cover
When the artificial grass comes out of the oven and the latex is hardened, the grass cover is perforated to ensure good drainage.
Cutting the grass covers
The grass comes out of the machine as one long cover which is cut to rolls with a width of 4 metres and a length of 25.5 metres. It can be cut futher in half, to a width of 2 metres.