Artificial turf is a synthetic surface designed to have an appearance similar to natural grass. It is commonly used in arenas for sports that were traditionally played on grass. Its use has recently spread to commercial and residential areas. The reason for its popularity is maintenance. Artificial grasses are capable of withstanding heavy use and does not need trimming or irrigation. Artificial Grass is also suitable for domed and partially covered enclosures because it does not need sunlight to stay healthy. The development of synthetic materials and their incorporation into carpets for use as alternatives to natural grass was first achieved by the chemstr and company in the United States (later renamed to Monsanto textiles). This product first saw widespread use UN the 1960s when it was used as a replacement for natural grass in the newly built astrodome.
The playing surface was originally given the name chemgrass, but nicknamed astro turf by the media. By the start of the 1970s these early imitations of natural grass had acquired a remarkable resemblance to natural grass and were actually used at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal for the hockey tournament. First generation pitches were made from polyamide fibres.
However, this material had a major drawback- polyamide yarns used made the pitches rough as a result, they often caused wounds and friction burns. The only way to deal with the problem at the time was to wet the pitches before games were played. Second generation grass surfaces were designed with medium pile height and were filled with sand to improve stability. The tufts were made using a new polypropylene as a replacement for polyamide (nylon). Despite the fact that these surfaces were highly popular for community level sport and recreation but could not compete with first generation products at the top levels of competitive sport. Third generation surfaces were introduced towards the end of the 20th century. They were designed to have a longer pile (between 35 and 65mm) and were dressed with either rubber granules or sand. The use of propylene which was a much softer material than nylon made for a much softer playing surface. The use of sand and granulated rubber also increased stability. All changes to Artificial Grass that were introduced after the year 2000 are referred to as fourth generation. Artificial turf today utilizes a combination of textured fibre, microfilamentsand variable length fibre.
The quality of the materials used during manufacturing determines the performance of artificial turf installations. Any material that can be used as a carpet backing may be used as a backing material for the turf. High quality turf typically uses polyester tire chord as backing material. The fibres that constitute the tufts of artificial grass are made from polypropylene or nylon. Manufacturing processes vary. The blades of nylon can be produced in thin sheets that are then separated into thin strips or pushed through moulds to create fibres that have an oval or round shaped cross section. The mould manufacturing process produces tufts that feel and behave more like natural grass. Cushioning is developed from polyester foam or rubber. At times rubber tires are crushed and used as filling for the rubber base. Materials for the backing may at times come from rubber or plastic recycling programs