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News

New steering technology for inline skates features DuPont Zytel

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 20 May, 2006  (New Product)
The Italian company MGM SpA has switched from aluminium to DuPont Zytel nylon for three key components of a technology which makes inline skates more manoeuvrable. They feature on the new Night Hawk CS model from Fila Skates. The change of material not only maintains extremely high levels of performance in terms of stiffness and elasticity, but also reduces production and assembly costs. This in turn has enabled the company to make its latest skates more affordable to a wider range of users.
The Italian company MGM SpA has switched from aluminium to DuPont Zytel nylon for three key components of a technology which makes inline skates more manoeuvrable. They feature on the new Night Hawk CS model from Fila Skates. The change of material not only maintains extremely high levels of performance in terms of stiffness and elasticity, but also reduces production and assembly costs. This in turn has enabled the company to make its latest skates more affordable to a wider range of users.

Viewed as the major world innovation in inline skates, 'Active Steering' is a patented technology which features on Fila Skates. Instead of the four wheels being joined to the boot by a single chassis, 'Active Steering' incorporates two separate chassis and a bridge between the chassis and the boot. 'This technology allows skaters unique manoeuvrability, enabling them to perform very tight bends, even on large diameter wheels, whilst providing increased speed and comfort,' explained Claudio Balconi, Fila Skates product manager at MGM (Treviso, Italy). When first launched on the Steering Night Hawk, the two chassis and bridge were made in extruded aluminium. However, upon extension of the product line with the new Night Hawk CS model, the two chassis were changed to glass-fibre-reinforced and toughened Zytel, whilst the bridge features a specific grade of the DuPont nylon, made stiffer by way of an increased fibre-glass content.

'Previous models, with parts in aluminium, were very difficult and therefore expensive to produce and assemble,' explains Claudio Balconi. 'For this reason we sought out an injection-mouldable plastic that would allow us to adopt a more flexible and lean production process and, by cutting prices, offer our technology to a wider public. Nevertheless the material had to offer very high performance in terms of resistance to front and side impacts in order to pass European regulations tests on skates. Moreover, the ideal resin had to provide ruggedness, rigidity, and elasticity in order to aid steering. We assessed many materials, but only Zytel nylon from DuPont ensured the right combination of properties'.

'The development of these critical ingredients was extremely lengthy and complex,' comments Franco Marabelli, sporting goods development manager at DuPont Engineering Polymers. 'Compared to the original aluminium parts, the Zytel components were totally redesigned by the MGM team, making them lighter yet just as strong. The bridge, for example, is the point that carries most of the load during steering'. Working in close cooperation with the MGM product team, DuPont assisted MGM in the design and development of both the resin and moulds.

Set up in the 1980s, the company MGM SpA, located in Vedelago, Treviso, specialises in the production of sports and other footwear. MGM SpA has worked with leading sports companies such as Fila, Nike, Bauer, Sisley and Tacchini, for the engineering, development and production of a number of models. It entered the inline skates sector in the summer of 1996 with the launch of the Hypno brand, and currently produces skates under the Fila Skates brand. The Night Hawk model sold 40,000 items in just twelve months throughout Europe.
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