Performance plastics are used in a multitude of ways in recreation applications. Numerous materials are going into the playgrounds, pools, parks and backyards of communities near you. Recreation itself has a broad definition, so let’s take look at how people are spending their leisure time and how performance plastics are involved.
While a standard backyard pool has hundreds of feet of PVC pipe controlling the flow of water, larger pools are being built with more plastics in mind. Many of the splash zones at community pools have high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) in the apparatus that sends water up in the air and over people to cool them off. Slides that once were made from fiberglass are now being built with thermoformed sheets of ABS or polypropylene (PP) and are flooded with water for maximum fun.
Most clear basketball backboards in parks are made from polycarbonate (PC), so they have little chance of breaking. Gone is the fiberglass or wood of old, and PC has a great rigidity to make the perfect layup bounce off the “glass.” And more often, multi-colored HDPE is used in the signage at golf courses and hiking trails. Check out the signage the next time you are at the ballpark, and you should be able to see the versatility of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Bowling alleys are starting to make a comeback, and the amount of plastics used in pinsetters is amazing. Plus, the new lanes are constructed with high-impact materials that glow in black lights for an even better experience. The next time you go to a professional event, such as a baseball or football game, take a look around you in the stadium. More than a dozen venues have been equipped with new state-of-the-art fan-pleasing upgrades, such as HDPE drink rails and tabletops with built-in cupholders that keep beverages cool and refreshing even on hot days.
Where do we begin? From signage to buildings to the very rides themselves, performance plastics have made their way into these parks. High performance materials included with the chains that pull the roller coaster up the hill are usually a filled nylon, able to withstand the heavy cars filled with thrill seekers. Polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) has been used to make thousands of realistic looking leaves for Disney’s Tree of Life in Orlando, FL, USA and Hong Kong, as well as the Winnie the Pooh tree and a tree in Dollywood. HDPE has made its way onto the midway in the forms of game stands and parts of the games themselves. The next time you sit down to shoot a stream of water at a target to make a character go up in a race of skill, think about the PVC and foamed PVC that is used to make the adventure that much more real.
For those that like their leisure time a lot slower, pull up a nice HDPE chair and sit by the firepit or on the beach, knowing your chair will not show any effects from damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays or the salty spray of the sea air. The HDPE remains easy to clean, so when you get some ash or dust or pollen on your outdoor cabinets, all you have to do is hose them down and they are as good as new.
Performance plastics are in everyday life already, so why not enjoy them on your days off? Whether you are being active or just relaxing by the pool, take a second and realize how much plastics work, even when we are not.
Originally published in the International Association of Plastics Distribution Performance Plastics Magazine, April/May 2022 publication.
Peter Daumeyer is a Territory Manager of Cartier Wilson LLC. For more information, contact CartierWilson LLC, 34194 Aurora Road, Suite 231, Solon, OH 44139 USA; phone (770) 644-0000, email@example.com, www.cartierwilson.com.