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Synthetic Turf (2G, 3G, 4G)

Artificial sports turf is made of synthetic fibers designed to mimic the appearance and playability of natural grass. It is used in sports facilities, such as stadiums and fields, as a substitute for natural grass, which can be difficult to maintain and can be damaged by heavy use. Synthetic turf is made to be durable and long-lasting and because of these characteristics, it is often used in other recreational areas, such as playgrounds and parks.

Understanding the Differences Between 2G, 3G, and 4G Synthetic Turf Pitches

A 2G sports pitch is a type of artificial turf that is primarily used for sports such as hockey. It comprises a sand-based foundation with short synthetic grass, with a pile height of usually less than 24 mm. 2G pitches began appearing at sports venues in the early 90s and it is the oldest type of artificial turf.

A 3G sports pitch refers to the third generation of synthetic turf characterized by a combination of synthetic grass fibers, sand, and rubber granules used as infill. The sand provides stability to the pitch, while the rubber granules give the surface a more natural feel and help to reduce the risk of injuries. The pile height of a 3G pitch is around 40mm to 65mm, and the surface is suitable for a range of sports. 3G pitches provide a consistent playing surface in all weather.

A 4G sports pitch is a type of synthetic turf that is denser than a 3G pitch and does not require infill materials for performance and stabilization. Compared to natural grass pitches, 4G pitches can be more expensive to install, but they have advantages such as durability and the ability to withstand heavy use.

There are several layers to an artificial sports surface:

  • Base layer: This layer is made of a material such as crushed stone or gravel, and it provides a stable foundation for the turf.
  • Drainage layer: This layer helps to remove excess water from the surface, ensuring that the turf stays dry and playable.
  • Shock pad layer: This layer is made of a cushioned material, such as foam, and it helps to reduce the impact on athletes’ joints when they run and play on the turf.
  • Turf layer: This is the top layer of the artificial sports surface, and it consists of synthetic fibers that are designed to mimic the appearance and feel of natural grass.
  • Infill: Some artificial turf systems include an infill layer, which is made of a material such as sand or rubber granules. The infill helps to hold the turf fibers upright, as well as providing additional cushioning and support for athletes.

Artificial turf sports surfaces are used all around the world. These fields can withstand intensive use despite challenging weather or other geographical factors. Manufactured sports surfaces can have significant differences in quality, and there are many systems to select from.

Sports federations have made sports field testing mandatory; a certified field is the best way to ensure the quality and safety of synthetic surfaces.

The condition and performance of an artificial turf is validated at various stages. Surfaces are assessed extensively in a lab and, once installed, will be subjected to additional field tests. The surface will need to be tested regularly to ensure conformity to required specifications.

The testing and certification process can be part of the requirements for hosting a specific competition or simply a way to establish a field is fit for purpose and maintained correctly.

Labosport can test all artificial sports surfaces to national and international standards, including, but not limited to:

  • EN, ISO, ASTM, NFP, BS, CSA (link to a standards page)
  • FIFA, World Rugby, World Athletics, FIH, ITF, AFL, FEI, etc. (link to National/International governing bodies page

Tests can assess the following:

  • Surface-Ball Interaction
  • Surface-Player Interaction
  • Material Quality Assessment
  • Build Quality Assessment