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We are entering interesting times in the sport and fitness sector, with a blossoming marketplace but also the need to protect profit margins more fiercely than ever. Polyurethane could well emerge from the ‘pack’ to become even more of a winning formula.

The buoyancy of the sports equipment market could well be boosted by post-pandemic priorities, especially greater awareness of the need to stay fit and healthy.

Also, it is safe to assume there will be increased demand for home gym equipment due to the period of prolonged confinement and the need for social distancing to be long term.

Order books for sports and fitness equipment could also be affected by the fact participating in and spectating major sports events have been denied for so long. Consumers could well decide to ‘do it for themselves’!

The 2021 Toyko Olympics will be a massive celebration of sporting endeavour post-pandemic. Major events of this nature always inspire an upsurge in interest in taking part in both personal fitness and team activities. The emotional significance of this re-arranged Olympics could spur this along even further.

All of which suggests that the future is ‘golden’ for companies in this field. In 2018, the global sports equipment market was already worth an eye-watering 70.1 billion U.S. dollars. By 2025, the sector was predicted to grow to 89 billion U.S. dollars. Could that now be a conservative figure?

This blossoming investment in both personal and communal sports equipment creates a wealth of opportunities for manufacturers. It is the ideal opportunity to innovate, accelerating both R&D and core product capacity.

How many of those ambitious and forward-looking firms will look to polyurethane for cost-effective solutions?

Best use of polyurethane for lean sports manufacturing

Moulded polyurethane is already in pole position to be applied to diverse sports-related products. For an industry that appreciates the importance of ‘performance’ and staying on course, polyurethane offers key properties.

This is especially true in sports equipment and accessories that are innovative and design-orientated. If aesthetics matter as much as function, choosing moulded polyurethane can help companies to stay ahead in the race to gain a competitive edge.

The best example of this is gym mats and other sports hall flooring.

That’s due to the fact polyurethane is incredibly versatile and can be crafted in a vast range of colours, densities and tensile values. Which means it can be used freely floor to ceiling, including wheels, shields and shunts that support gym apparatus.

You can also find polyurethane components in sports equipment designed for movement, such as roller blade wheels and scooters, and everywhere from golf courses to ski slopes, and from rock climbing walls to cycle helmets.

In fact, wherever you need a non-slip surface, wheel, blade, rod, shield, bump, grip or hook, custom moulded polyurethane can be a winner. Simply by virtue of the fact that its formula, shape and colour can be precisely matched to exacting needs and specifications.

What makes polyurethane is ‘fit for purpose’ in sports?

Not that the only reasons to switch to polyurethane in sports manufacturing are connected to innovation.

This material already has a long track record for providing sports equipment producers with important competitive advantages. For example, polyurethane components are extremely resistant to friction and abrasion. Attributes you often find in gym and sports equipment in constant use.

Also, polyurethane is unaffected by mould, moisture and other potentially damaging substances. In a moisture-rich gym or swimming pool area, having sports equipment components moulded from polyurethane protects both their function and long term survival.

These durability and strength values are also vital to the end-user of course. Having equipment that doesn’t need to be replaced – or repaired – too often, can be high on consumer priorities.

Equipment specifiers and consumers will also be far more willing to recommend and re-order if their sports equipment proves to be reliable and hardwearing. Both of which are intrinsic values of using polyurethane in sports-related products.

Sports equipment green muscle

Many sports and fitness equipment manufacturers – and end-users – are keen to specify sustainable products.

This is another way in which polyurethane is a winning formula. This comes from its durability – reducing the need to replace components in sports apparatus, flooring and wearables like rollerblades.

Also, manufacturing and moulding polyurethane is an energy-efficient process and does not involve the same level of oil-based substrates as some alternative materials.

The bottom line in sports manufacturing

Use of moulded polyurethane parts and components in sports-related applications also hinges on price. All manufacturers need to be lean to survive, even when the market is relatively open.

Fortunately, for all its many advantages and applications, polyurethane is still also a highly cost-effective solution for producing sports and fitness equipment and accessories. An authentic win-win situation!