The sports flooring market continues to shift towards the trend of flooring that enhances athletes’ performance. Commercialised since 2013, Infinergy by BASF is the world’s first expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E-TPU). The closed-cell, elastic particle foam invented by chemical innovators BASF combines the properties of conventional TPU with the advantages of foams – making it as elastic as rubber but lighter.
Already incorporated in some top brand sports equipment (Dunlop Sonic Core squash and tennis racquets, Ergon bicycle saddles) for its unique compression technology, the material provides a better-performing and more lightweight alternative to rubber flooring.
Unlike rubber, Infinergy does not lose its resilience even under a continuous load or stress, nor over a wide range of temperature and weather conditions. Rubber surfacing may be prone to contract and stiffen in cold weather, potentially leaving gaps in perimeters – whereas dynamic mechanical analysis shows Infinergy® stays elastic up to minus 20°C (minus 4°F). So, as outdoor track-and-field flooring, the E-TPU material has the advantage of being able to retain its performance integrity for decades, even in extremely hot or cold climates – conditions that would deteriorate rubber flooring, by comparison.
Infinergy is currently used for gym flooring, track surfaces and children playgrounds, with potential for far wider flooring applications. As a flooring structure, it provides high rebound and excellent impact absorption, helping athletes achieve better performance while lowering risks of exercise-related injuries for children.
BPA-free, easily customisable for colour, thickness and permeability – and with low project and maintenance cost due to fast curing – Infinergy® has been successfully introduced as sports and playground flooring in dozens of schools across China. This includes a benchmark high-performance running track for the Shanghai American School.
Robust and durable (the material is used to make chewable toys for big dogs), another advantage Infinergy provides is that it is 100% recyclable to its original performance qualities. Plus, creator BASF is strong on sustainability standards – for instance, BASF audits raw material suppliers on sustainability standards, and expects their transparency and commitment to BASF’s Product Carbon Footprint tracing and certification program. This means using Infinergy in flooring could potentially help companies meet climate and sustainability goals.