A protective floor that is made of wood looks and feels completely different from an events floor made from plastic materials, as I am sure you would agree. Wood looks warmer and therefore adds more to the atmosphere of a space. However, the benefits associated with using a plastic floor are much greater. With increasing frequency, people working in the events sector have been asking me whether we can produce a plastic floor with a warmer look. This gave me a great idea…
Over the years, I have observed that wooden floors in particular are used for events in Western Europe. This is because they are an inexpensive solution, but also because they have an attractive appearance and create the atmosphere that many people are looking for. However, there are very many disadvantages associated with wooden floors: they have a short lifespan, cannot be driven on by vehicles such as forklift trucks and vans, and the flooring sections are uneven and unstable, and therefore pose a danger to pedestrians. In addition, wood is difficult to clean, which makes it unhygienic. Grease, acid and droppings can become absorbed in the wood’s grains.
Compare these negative aspects with the advantages offered by plastic floors: they offer a safe, stable solution for both pedestrians and vehicles, have a long lifespan and are easy to clean. And moulds and bacteria are unable to penetrate the material. Plastic floors can also be used indoors
and are suitable for private use – in gardens, on balconies or on campsites, for example.
At first glance, plastic floors may seem to be an expensive solution, but if you calculate things properly, the difference in price when compared to wooden floors is not actually that big. And, in fact, they may sometimes even be the cheaper option. Nevertheless, the fact remains that plastic floors leave a lot to be desired in terms of atmosphere. And for the events sector, this does appear to be something that really does count.
So… how can we add atmosphere when using a plastic floor? My idea was a very simple one: we would apply a wood texture to our plastic floors. What followed was the search for a sustainable way of manufacturing a floor of this kind. What we didn’t want was for the wooden texture to be diminished through wear and tear or cleaning after the floor had been used just once or twice. Printing turned out not to be a viable option, as the ink did not bond to the HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) well enough. The ink was also not sufficiently scratch-resistant.
So, what did we do? Well, we developed a new mould which enabled us to use IML (in-mould labelling) during the production process. In other words, a film with a wood texture is stretched across a hexagonal tile during the injection moulding process, causing the two to fuse, as it were.
This guarantees a secure bond, and optimises the flooring’s scratch resistance level.
I am quite proud of our plastic floor, which has a rugged wooden pattern. But I now need to come up with a good name for it. It is made up of a hexagonal tile with a wooden print, so Hexwood or Woodhex would be obvious options. But our designers have now also come up with grass, pebble, water and many other patterns. Using the word ‘wood’ would therefore undersell the product: IML makes much more possible.
Do you have a good idea for an appropriate name? Please do let me know. I would love to hear what you think!