FIFA has decided to adjust its ‘handbook of test methods’ for synthetic turf and make it mandatory to wash test samples prior to tests. The bold move became necessary after it was noticed that a growing number of test samples still contained excess spin oil residue.
Spin oil is used to improve the production process of yarn in particular. The oily substance improves the sliding capacities of the thin, plastic string through the machinery thereby preventing it from sticking. Without the spin oil, it is likely that the plastic string would snap, thereby clogging up the production process.
It seems that some companies took the advantages spin oil offers to another level. By leaving residue in the carpet, or perhaps even adding additional spin oil to the carpet, the tests results for the abrasion test in particular, came out more favourable.
The abrasion test is the only test that is also being conducted in dry condition. In this test, a silicon piece that resembles the human skin, is attached to a test foot that is dragged over the surface to determine the sliding friendliness of the synthetic turf system. Particularly non-filled systems struggle from passing this test.
FIFA always thought that, by defining the temperature range in which the test should be conducted as well as the parameters for the silicon skin, the test foot, the speed and distance at which this foot is dragged and stipulating how the test results should be interpreted, it had secured the validity of the test results. The conclusion that the excess spin oil still present in the carpet manipulated the results of the test, forced FIFA to implement steps to stop this from happening again.
The FIFA Technical Advisory Group has now validated a washing method to rinse of the additionally added spin oil. The practice will become compulsory with the next release of the FIFA handbook of test methods.