In 2002, Eco Chemical employee Jeff Fisher noticed a problem — a problem that was growing worse, and one that up until then, no one had shown any interest in solving.
The problem? Dangerous and damaging paint buildup on synthetic turf athletic fields.
President Mark Cheirrett, was repeatedly witnessing the full scope of damage being caused by field paint buildup, including field discoloration, costly removal labor, delays, excessive field wear, hardening of the field that risked injuring players, and extremely frustrated clients.
“Paint manufacturers were trying to make paint that was removable, but all the recommended removal methodologies were little more than a concoction of unreliable home remedies,” Cheirrett said. “No one was taking a fresh, systematic approach to solving the problem. No one seemed interested at the time, so we started looking into it.”
The Rise of Synthetic Turf
Rapid market growth underscored the urgent need for a more systematic and customizable approach to the problem. According to the Synthetic Turf Council, the number of new synthetic turf sports field installations each year has more than doubled over the last decade. And with this influx of synthetic fields, turf care professionals needed a comprehensive start-to-finish solution for field painting and paint removal, adjustable to varying weather and field conditions and intended duration of use.
One driving factor behind this market growth was the incremental revenue opportunity presented by synthetic fields to have a multi-event venue, particularly for colleges and professional installations. Synthetic turf can stand up to the heavy traffic generated by multiple sports and non-sports events, and a successful multi-use program requires a versatile and reliable field marking system.
Some of the earliest synthetic turf marking paints on the market were simply modified versions of successful natural grass paints, with one formula fitting all seasons, climates, and play expectations. The result was a paint that altered the play characteristics of the synthetic turf, was difficult to remove, and left a solid residual that could not be easily flushed out.
In their quest for the complete system solution, TempLine had the benefit of starting with a fresh, unbiased perspective on the problem. Unlike normal paints, the ideal paint for synthetic turf would have to perform without chemically bonding to, or being absorbed by, the turf surface. But the essential criteria for a superior synthetic turf was inherently contradictory. The paint is expected to be easy to apply, to not alter the play characteristics of the field, to stand up to weather and play wear, and still come off quickly and easily.
With no other paints on the market offering satisfactory solutions, Cheirrett and the TempLine team started from scratch. Instead of focusing on typical paint bonding chemistry, they needed something that formed a lightweight “exoskeletal” coating on the turf strands, while also re-liquifying when removed to avoid leaving behind solids.
But simple mechanics weren’t enough: the paint also had to be able to adapt to different turfs, climate conditions, and durability requirements. Attaining this versatility ultimately required the creation of several different formulas, each including the essential performance characteristics.
Creating the right paints, however, was only half the battle. An effective remover had to be developed that was compatible with the paint chemistry. TempLine’s approach was to simultaneously formulate ecologically friendly paints and removers with optimum compatibility and performance results. Similar to the situation with paints, it was also necessary to formulate different remover viscosity choices to effectively accommodate different weather or climate conditions.
Cheirrett was particularly drawn to this piece of the challenge, and wasted no time designing equipment that would physically remove and lift the pain off the field. After several design iterations, with much trial and error, the Mantis® Hydro-extractor was born, a machine capable of removing and extracting the residual paint and remover materials while leaving the infill material behind.
The Mantis Hydro-extractor was the first of its kind in the market, specifically designed and engineered to work with TempLine paints and removers. Thorough extraction minimized residue remaining in the turf that could degrade field play characteristics or potentially interfere with field drainage.
With this final piece of the puzzle in place, Cheirrett was now able to confidently offer his clients a complete TempLine System.
The TempLine System allows for a specification of materials and equipment customized to the client’s needs and budget. Cheirrett describes the System quite simply: it’s a series of tools to get you from point A to point B as quickly and efficiently as possible while providing a low risk approach to turf painting and removal.
The System includes:
- Adhesion enhancer: TempLine Pregame, which can condition newer fields
- Protection for sewn in lines: TempLine Clear Coat
- Paint: TempLine FastBreak, Original, or Tough, depending on required length of service
- Removal solutions: Gel and LV (Low Viscosity)
- Removal Equipment: Scrub Bug, Water Bug, and the Mantis Hydro Extractor
- Expert advice and troubleshooting from Eco Chemical employees
Cheirrett says that while there are many benefits to using the TempLine System, three in particular stand out.
1. Increases player safety
Paint buildup can interfere with infill performance and cause serious player injury. Professional sports leagues like the NFL and FIFA have started requiring regular field hardness tests such as the Gmax and Clegg tests, and the NFL is now mandating that stadiums extract the paint every four games.
2. Adds value to the venue.
“With faster field turnover times, lower labor costs, less field wear and tear and a safer field, you can host more events – you can get the most use possible out of your field,” says Cheirrett.
3. Adds life to your field
The care of the field is in line with what turf manufacturers want and what customers expect, and as Cheirrett points out, the adjustability of the TempLine System keeps fields in better shape long-term. The ability to tailor a painting and paint removal solution to fit your specific field use schedule and using materials and removal technology that were designed to work together gives you a big leg up on the challenge.
From prep, to paint, to removal, the TempLine System’s holistic approach will change the way you think about field paint.
If you’re interested in learning more about the TempLine System, just give us a call. Let us help you get the most out of your field with a customized solution to fit your field marking needs.