Light in motion: new glow-in-the-dark lighting system enhances skateboards and improves safety
Safety and innovation are two words that can be connected to RTP Company's new glow-in-the-dark compound. Thanks to this glass-filled polypropylene material, skateboarders can roll through the night in style while making themselves more visible to traffic and pedestrians.
Bell Innovative Products of Sylmar, CA, chose this glow-in-the-dark compound to enhance its new FU skateboards. Developing this line of boards was an exciting concept from the moment its designers began thinking about the possibilities of lighted skaters brightening the streets. Stu Swain, the color product manager at RTP, says the line's under-board lighting was the result of a safety-first initiative. The glow-in-the-dark compound is used on the underside of the boards to light up roads and sidewalks and draw attention to skateboarders out at night.
A Fresh Look On Board
Bell Innovative was interested in a fresh look for its line of FU skateboards, its latest addition. The company was searching for something extreme and daring. RTP provided the solution with its RTP 100 Series compound, which gives skateboards a built-in ground effects lighting kit.
This effect is accomplished by insert molding an extruded sheet of the glow-in-the-dark material to the bottom of the polypropylene board. When a rider cruises the streets at night, a supernatural light emits from the board's bottom. If the boarder does a stunt or flip, a strobe light effect is produced as the board turns back and forth and up and down, creating a light show as well as a safer riding environment.
Changing Industry's Mindset
Conventional plastic boards can lack strength and rigidity, limiting them to the market's lower end. Bell Innovative's decision to use RTP's glow-in-the-dark compound on a high-performance plasticskateboard resulted in a product with the inflexibility and strength needed for high-end users and changed the thinking in the industry.
"Performance and strength are our overriding concerns," says Mark Bell, president of Bell Innovative, "and this material is the strongest we've seen. Previous trials with other resins and different glass and mineral combinations just proved inadequate."
The compound exhibits a tensile strength of 11,000 psi (76 MPa) and a flexural modulus of 0.65 psi x [10.sup.6] (4479 MPa). It also incorporates high-intensity, long-glow duration pigments. The material is engineered to take an initial charge quickly and average both 10 times the brightness and glow duration of typical glow-in-the-dark materials.
Swain compares the compound's lighting capability to that of under-car lighting kits. "This type of light normally lasts 10 times longer and brighter," says Swain. "However, since we have forced the light to all travel in one direction instead of letting it flow, the life on these is up to 20 times longer and brighter than the others. And their glow properties will not fade over time."This technology is seen as an exciting and revolutionary advance in the skateboarding and plastics industry. But it is more than that. It is a way to keep skateboarders safe and visible and a way for them to stay cool