Artificial turf, or synthetic turf, is a man-made surface manufactured from synthetic materials, made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and commercial applications as well.
David Chaney — who moved to Raleigh in 1960 and later served as dean of the North Carolina State University College of Textiles — headed the team of RTP researchers who created the famous artificial turf. That accomplishment led Sports Illustrated to declare Chaney as the man “responsible for indoor major league baseball and millions of welcome mats.” Artificial turf first came to prominence in 1965, when AstroTurf was installed in the newly-built Astrodome in Houston, Texas. The use of AstroTurf and similar surfaces became widespread in the 1970s and was installed in both indoor and outdoor stadiums used for baseball and gridiron football in the United States and Canada. Maintaining a grass playing surface indoors, while technically possible, is prohibitively expensive, while teams who chose to play on artificial surfaces outdoors did so because of the reduced maintenance cost, especially in colder climates with urban multi-purpose “cookie cutter” stadiums such as Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium, Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium and Philadelphia’s Veterans Stadium.
Since the early 1990s, the use of synthetic grass has moved rapidly beyond athletic fields to residential and commercial landscaping artificial lawns. The idea to use synthetic grass for residential landscaping can be traced back to a Las Vegas based company named Envy Turf. Lyle Johnston, the owner of Envy Turf, saw a golf course being converted to synthetic turf, and decided it had an appropriate use in landscaping, due to the drought conditions Las Vegas has been under since the early nineties. He began purchasing and installing turf in 1992. This trend has been driven primarily by two functions: the quality and variety of synthetic grasses that are available has improved dramatically, and cities and water conservation organizations have begun realizing the value of artificial grass as a conservation measure.
- Artificial turf can be a better solution when the environment is particularly hostile to natural grass. An arid environment or one where there is little natural light are examples.
- Ideal for holiday homes when maintenance of lawns is not practical. It is also a solution for elderly homeowners who find the upkeep of lawns too much hard work.
- Suitable for roof gardens and swimming pool surrounds.
- Artificial turf is expected to last up to twenty-five years.
Some artificial turf systems allow for the integration of fiber-optic fibers into the turf. This would allow for lighting or advertisements to be directly embedded in a playing surface, or runway lighting to be embedded in artificial landing surfaces for aircraft
Crumb rubber is a term usually applied to recycled rubber from automotive and truck scrap tires. During the recycling process steel and fluff is removed leaving tire rubber with a granular consistency. Continued processing with a granulator and/or cracker mill, possibly with the aid of cryogenics, reduces the size of the particles further. The particles are sized and classified based on various criteria including color (black only or black and white). The granulate is sized by passing through a screen, the size based on a dimension (1/4″) or mesh (holes per inch : 10, 20, etc.).
Mesh refers to material that has been sized by passing through a screen with a given number of holes per inch. For example, 10 mesh crumb rubber has passed through a screen with 10 holes per inch resulting in rubber granulate that is slightly less than 1/10th of an inch. The exact size will depend on the size of wire used in the screen.
Rubberized asphalt is the largest market for crumb rubber in the United States, consuming an estimated 220 million pounds, or approximately 12 million tires annually. Crumb rubber is also used as ground cover under playground equipment, and as a surface material for running tracks and athletic fields.
AstroTurf is a brand of artificial turf. Though the term is a registered trademark, it is sometimes used as a generic description of any kind of artificial turf. The original AstroTurf product was a short pile synthetic turf  while the current products incorporate modern features such as antimicrobial protection, rubber infill, backing systems and nylon yarn fibers.
AstroTurf was co-invented in 1964 by James M. Faria and Robert T. Wright, employees of Monsanto. It was patented in 1967 and originally sold under the name “Chemgrass”. It was renamed AstroTurf after its first well-publicized use at the Houston Astrodome stadium in 1966.
In 1986 Monsanto consolidated its AstroTurf management, marketing, and technical activities in Dalton, Georgia, as AstroTurf Industries, Inc. In 1988 Balsam AG purchased all the capital stock of AstroTurf Industries, Inc. In 1994 Southwest Recreational Industries, Inc. (SWRI) acquired the AstroTurf brand. In 1996 SWRI was acquired by American Sports Products Group Inc. (ASPG). In 2001, SWRI launched a turf system called NexTurf. In 2003 SWRI changed its name to SRI Sports and one year later filed for bankruptcy and the parent company, ASPG, retained the AstroTurf rights. In 2005 Textile Management and Associates (TMA) acquired the AstroTurf assets and intellectual property from ASPG and began marketing the AstroTurf brand under the company AstroTurf, LLC. In 2006 GeneralSports Venue (GSV) became TMA’s marketing partner for the AstroTurf brand for the American market. AstroTurf, LLC handles the marketing of AstroTurf in the rest of the world.
- The Moses Brown School in Providence, Rhode Island, installs AstroTurf.
- The Houston Astrodome opens with natural turf and a glass roof which causes glare for the fielders. The glass panes with a view of the sun are painted white, and the grass soon dies. The field’s dead grass is replaced with AstroTurf the next year.
- AstroTurf is first installed in the Houston Astrodome. The infield was in place in April, but due to lack of supply, the outfield is not completed until July, when the Astros are sent on an extended road trip. The all-synthetic field is ready for play following the All-Star break in July. The first football game played on AstroTurf occurs when the Houston Cougars beat the Washington State Cougars.
- AstroTurf is first installed in an outdoor stadium – Indiana State University Stadium, Terre Haute, Indiana.
- AstroTurf manufacturing facility opens in Dalton, GA.
- Husky Stadium at the University of Washington in Seattle becomes the second major sports facility in the U.S. to install AstroTurf.
- Miami Dolphins play Minnesota Vikings on AstroTurf in Super Bowl VIII – Rice Stadium, Houston, TX.
- AstroTurf is installed at New Orleans Louisiana Superdome and Pontiac Silverdome.
- First international field hockey game played on AstroTurf at Molson Stadium, Montreal.
- Cincinnati Reds play World Series on AstroTurf.
- Cincinnati Reds play back-to-back World Series’ on AstroTurf.
- Dallas Cowboys defeat the Denver Broncos (27-10) on AstroTurf in Super Bowl XII – Superdome, New Orleans, LA.
- 1980 World Series is first to be entirely played on AstroTurf as the Philadelphia Phillies (Veterans Stadium) defeat the Kansas City Royals (Royals Stadium) in six games.
- Oakland Raiders play Philadelphia Eagles on AstroTurf in Super Bowl XV – Superdome, New Orleans, LA. 
- Women’s World Cup Hockey (field hockey) games are played on AstroTurf.
- AstroTurf installs first North American vertical drainage systems in Ewing, NJ at Trenton State College (now known as The College of New Jersey). 
- First E-Layer system (Elastomeric) installed at William and Mary, as well as University of California, Berkeley. 
- The fourth (and thus far last) World Series to be played entirely on AstroTurf features the Toronto Blue Jays defeating the Philadelphia Phillies 4 games to 2.
- Atlanta Olympic Field Hockey installs AstroTurf System.
- Real Madrid C. F. (Spain) become the first European football club to purchase an AstroTurf system for their practice fields.
Buffalo Bills install AstroTurf system in Ralph Wilson Stadium
Artificial Turf Applications
Soccer Field with Artificial Turf
Tropicana Field equipped with artificial turf
Some football (soccer) clubs in Europe installed artificial surfaces in the 1980s, which were called plastic pitches (often derisively) in countries such as England. In England several professional club venues had adopted the pitches, QPR’s Loftus Road, Luton Town’s Kenilworth Road, Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park and Preston’s Deepdale until the English FA banned them in 1988. Artificial turf gained a bad reputation on both sides of the Atlantic with fans and especially with players. The first artificial turfs were a far harder surface than grass, and soon became known as an unforgiving playing surface which was prone to cause more injuries, and in particular, more serious joint injuries, than would comparatively be suffered on a grass surface. Artificial turf was also regarded as aesthetically unappealing to many fans.
In 1981, London football club Queens Park Rangers dug up its grass pitch and installed an artificial one. Others followed, and by the mid-1980s there were four plastic grass pitches in operation in the English league. They soon became a national joke: the ball pinged round like it was made of rubber, the players kept losing their footing, and anyone who fell over risked carpet burns. Unsurprisingly, fans complained that the football was awful to watch and, one by one, the clubs returned to natural grass.
In the 1990s many North American football clubs also removed their artificial surfaces and re-installed grass, while others moved to new stadiums with state-of-the-art grass surfaces that were designed to withstand cold temperatures where the climate demanded it. The use of artificial turf was later banned by FIFA, UEFA and by many domestic football associations, though, in recent years, both governing bodies have expressed an interest in resurrecting the use of artificial surfaces as the related technologies continue to evolve. UEFA has now been heavily involved in programs to test artificial turf with tests made in several grounds meeting with FIFA approval. A team of UEFA, FIFA and German company Polytan conducted tests in the Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim in Salzburg, Austria which is due to have matches played on it in the UEFA EURO 2008. It is the second FIFA 2 Star approved football turf pitch in a European domestic top flight, after Dutch club Heracles Almelo received the FIFA certificate in August last year. The tests were approved.
Soccer field developments
Modern artificial grass
In the early 21st century, new artificial playing surfaces using sand and/or rubber infill were developed. These “next generation” or “third generation” artificial grass surfaces are often virtually indistinguishable from natural grass when viewed from any distance, and are generally regarded as being about as safe to play on as a typical natural grass surface — perhaps even safer in cold conditions.
Description of crumb rubber grading:
The following are common classifications of crumb rubber:
Retreaders Tire Buffings shall consist of clean, fresh, dry buffings from tire retread preparation operations.
No.1 – Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black Only Guaranteed MetalFree, sized. Magnetically separated materials are not acceptable. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.2 – Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black & White Guaranteed MetalFree, sized to minus 40 Mesh. Magnetically separated materials are not acceptable. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.3 – Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black Only Magnetically Separated, sized. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.4 – Tire Granule shall consist of granulated tire crumb, Black & White Magnetically Separated, sized. Fluff from tire cord removed.
No.5 – Tire Granule shall consist of unclassified granulated tire crumb, Sized, Unseparated, not magnetically separated, fluff from tire cord not removed.
Many clubs have installed the new synthetic grass surfaces, most commonly as part of an all-weather training capability. Other clubs which have maintained natural grass surfaces are now re-considering artificial grass. With football clubs in Europe are looking to reduce both the maintenance costs and the number of winter matches that are cancelled due to frozen pitches, the issue has also been re-visited by that sport’s governing bodies.
The Scottish Premier League banned synthetic pitches for competition matches in 2005, following a two year experiment by Dunfermline Athletic who installed XL Turf, made by the Swiss firm, XL Generation. The management of Dunfermline were happy with the surface, but the league banned the use of the artificial pitch due to complaints by visiting clubs such as Rangers and Celtic).
“The most common type uses polypropylene “grass” about 5 centimetres long, which is lubricated with silicone and tufted into a primary cloth and then latex is applied to the back of the cloth to give it stability by anchoring in the tufts. The whole thing is then “infilled” with a 4-centimetre layer of sand and rubber granules, which keeps the fibres upright and provides the right level of shock absorbency and deformability. The majority of the 15 or so turf manufacturers approved by FIFA use this technology. The other sort, typified by Dunfermline’s pitch, has a base of expanded polyethylene, a foamy material originally developed as a shock absorber for the car industry (see diagram). The grass is also made of lubricated polyethylene fibres, but they are shorter and more densely packed than on an infilled pitch, and are also interspersed with short, curly, spring-like fibres that keep the blades upright. The finishing touch is an 8-millimetre filling of rubber granules.” The installation at the Borussia-Park in Mönchengladbach is another major step in the quality and development of artificial turf surfaces.[