Owners of Viking Ice relocate production of plywood, polycarbonate synthetic ice panels to Tacoma, Washington, to work with laminating specialist Ply-Trim West and be closer to emerging Asian markets
March 5, 2012
– Plywood manufactured in Chehalis, Washington, is being used a substrate for synthetic ice, a product that could find a growing market in China, where ice rinks are often built as centerpieces in shopping centers.
The product, marketed as Viking Ice, is produced in Tacoma, Washington, by laminating polycarbonate plastic made in Nevada to high-quality plywood.
The 4 ft. x 4 ft. synthetic ice panels have been in production in Illinois since 1985, but the Wilsonville, Oregon-based owners of Viking Ice recently relocated production to Tacoma.
The manufacturing operation is contracted to Ply-Trim West, which specializes in bonding synthetic surfaces to plywood cores. Viking Ice general manager Doug McNeill said his company felt Ply-Trim could produce the quality needed for the synthetic product to compete with real ice. The company also wanted to be closer to emerging markets in Asia.
Viking sees China as a target market as many new shopping centers are being built with public ice skating rinks, opening the potential of nearly 200 cities with a population of nearly a million.
The company is also targeting overseas markets where the climate is too warm to maintain an ice surface at a reasonable cost, or the required machinery is not available.
Murdo Patterson of Cascadia Sports Systems in Port Moody, British Columbia, said his company recently installed a Viking Ice rink in a shopping center in China, providing an opportunity for shoppers to enjoy skating without a huge price.
Former medal-winning figure skater Jeb Rand, who has skated on a Viking surface, estimates that the refrigeration and engineering needed to maintain a real ice surface costs can be up to US$400/hour. Ice rink owners with experience of Viking surfaces estimate the maintenance cost of a Viking rink is about 10% or less of that figure.
Viking Ice says its product is about 93% as slick as ice that has been just resurfaced, and that real ice will fall to the same slickness as synthetic ice after 20 minutes of moderate use.
The primary source of this article is The Bellingham Herald, Bellingham, Washington, on March 4, 2012.