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Now everyone can race with 'clap' ice skates thanks to Zytel

Du Pont Engineering Polymers : 12 February, 2004  (Company News)
The new Zandstra
These important benefits were made possible by the substitution of the complex metal frame of the traditional ‘clap skate’ – used until now only by sports professionals - with an injection-moulded frame made entirely of DuPont Zytel® Super Tough (ST) nylon resin, selected for its excellent mechanical strength and impact resistance at low temperatures.

Due to its frame (or ‘foot and heel plate’) of Zytel® ST, Zandstra’s new skate needs less maintenance, has fewer parts (that could fall out into the ice or get damaged by wear and tear) and is therefore significantly more reliable and easier to use for the average consumer than the clap skates worn by Olympic champions.

This Super Tough DuPont nylon was selected primarily because sports manufacturer Zandstra of The Netherlands and ‘Ving’s’ industrial designer, Stylus of Italy, had both used the material extensively in the past for winter sports applications. A pair of clap skates costs approximately Euro 1,500 compared to standard racing skates, which cost about Euro 150-200. A pair of ‘Ving’ clap skates costs Euro 199.

Peter Edauw, a design engineer and partner at Stylus said: “Zandstra insisted on DuPont™ Zytel® because the high quality thermoplastic, which can also be cost-efficiently injection moulded, provides 'minimum hassle — minimum risk' to winter sports manufacturers such as ourselves. It displays excellent resistance to impact and mechanical stress at very low temperatures and because it is an engineering polymer it also displays flexibility. We believe it is the material that displays the best value for money for winter sports applications.”

CEO Walter Zandstra confirmed: “We have been using Zytel® ST for all our skates for almost 20 years now. In the mid 1980s we tested a lot of materials and particularly lots of 6.6 polyamides, essentially looking for the best low temperature mechanical strength and impact resistance. Zytel® ST from DuPont came out tops. We have found it to be absolutely reliable. Skaters can hit ice cracks or fall hard which could damage the frame – and the ‘clap-pivot’ action causes a major additional stress to the frame - but there is no cracking on our skate with this Super Tough 66 nylon. The low temperature impact strength is unbeatable. That is why it is also used for the frames of most of the world’s leading ice hockey skates.”

The frame of ‘Ving’ is injection moulded in one piece from Zytel® ST. The ice skate’s steel runner is supplied by Swedish specialist Sandfic and Alcoa supplies the tube made of aluminium 7000. The tube is bolted to the frame in such a way that the chassis can pivot. The frame is the interface between the shoe and the steel blade. The capsule with the metal spring that activates the return of the blade in position is designed so that the spring is ‘hidden’.

Stylus’s Edauw commented: “This design is cleaner and more convenient for general users than the previous metal design. Because it is enclosed, the spring is also protected from the ice-cold environment and from elements such as dust and grit.”

Stylus worked with DuPont’s Italian specialists from the prototyping stage through detailed design and moulding trials with moulder Technostyle of Montebelluna. Zandstra test marketed the first ‘Ving’ clap skates in Canada, Austria and Norway as well as The Netherlands for three years prior to the product’s official October 2003 launch. According to Zandstra, there were no quality problems with any of the 75 pairs of Ving Skates used in the marketing trials worldwide. Technostyle also produced the tools and moulds (full style range) for the ‘Ving’ clap skate. The patent number is incorporated at moulding and the ‘Ving’ trademark is pad-printed by Technostyle afterwards.
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