Polyurethane skateboard wheels are an ideal choice for inline skating boots and wheels. When it comes to skating, polyurethane skate wheels are relatively indestructible, flexible, resilient and durable.
You should be able to check out the wheels and it’s performance depending on the skating style that will mostly be used for. Check out our previous article to know what the skateboarding styles are today.
Like every wheel’s purpose, polyurethane skateboard wheels allow the skateboard and the rider himself to move along a surface. It can come in a variety of colors, sizes, and designs that can show a rider’s personality and skating style.
Generally, skateboard wheels can be measured in diameter and durometer. The diameter is the size of the wheels, while the durometer shows how hard the wheels are. Both of these factors will depend on what you prefer, as well as what the skating purpose is.
The two major factors to consider when selecting skateboard wheels are their diameter and durometer. The diameter tells the size of the wheels while the durometer tells how hard the wheels are. These factors will become the basis of its ideal skating purpose.
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Brief History of Skateboard Wheels
Early 1900s, the first “skateboard wheels” were invented by innovative children by attaching old roller skate wheels to a 2 by 4 board. This was the concept behind the modern-day skateboard wheels that were molded from solid steel and were very tricky to use because the wheels offer very limited traction.
After a couple of years, the first commercial skateboard wheels were manufactured, still made from steel, however, smoother and more even. By the 1960s, manufacturers realized that these steel wheels are still offering little traction and are difficult to maneuver, so they tried making wheels from clay.
However, predictably, clay wheels are way bumpier, harder to control, and easier to break after landing some jump tricks.
In the 1970s, Frank Nasworthy made a breakthrough by using polyurethane in producing skateboard wheels. Frank, the inventor of the polyurethane skateboard wheel, noticed that urethane wheels performed better on roller skates, and thought they would work better on skateboards as well.
When polyurethane wheels were attached to skateboards, the sport took off wildly. People across the United States started skating on boards as their own sport, rather than just as a recreational activity. Skateboarding tricks and rules were also created during the late 1970s.
Since the 1980s, the construction of skateboard wheels has not changed much. Some modern polyurethane formulas provide greater traction and durability than the original mixtures, but the construction remains the same.
Clear wheels actually provide better performance than colored wheels, because the pigments in the wheels allow for less urethane in the wheel. The higher the concentration of urethane, the better performance will be in flexibility and traction.
Heat Transfer Printing Machine
Heat transfer printing machines are also called a digital printing machine. It is commonly used in printing skateboard graphics because it is efficient in transferring designs with intricate details and multiple colors.
The heat transfer printing can be broken down into two major phases: printing the design on a transfer paper, and transferring that design from the paper to the deck with the help of high heat and pressure.
- The first stage is pretty simple. Designs are made on computer software and it is then printed on a special transfer paper.
- After the graphics are ready on the transfer paper, the heat press is heated between 350 to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The skateboard deck is placed on the plate and covers the transfer paper with a thin cloth for protection.
- Pressure is applied to press the transfer paper and the deck together. The thicker the transfer paper is, the less pressure is needed.
- The usual time for heat transfer printing on skateboards varies from 25 – 60 seconds, depending on the design complexity.
- The film is peeled off while the transfer paper is still hot, leaving the full graphic on the board.
- Finally, any excess paint is scraped away from the edges with a sharp knife, leaving a neat edge and a professional finish.
The main drawback of heat transfer printing is the cost. Transfer paper may be costly but, you can do so much more with the graphics, its colors, and details, than with the screen printing method.
What Is Polyurethane and Why Is It Used?
Look around you. Chances are there are already objects around you made from polyurethane. That’s because polyurethane is one of the most widely-used forms of synthetic resin available on the market, and it’s used in thousands of household and commercial products worldwide.
Polyethylene is a versatile plastic material that can exist in a variety of forms. It can be made as either rigid or flexible, making it a great option for a broad range of different products. So, how is it made?
Polyurethane is made by chemically combining polymers and urethane. To accomplish this, polymers are linked together by urethane groups, creating a versatile solution that can take many forms. The compound created is stable, safe, and durable which is what we use today
History of Polyurethane
Polyurethanes were invented by a German industrial chemist, Professor Dr. Otto Bayer. During this time, experimentation and trials are being done to figure out what chemicals can be added to obtain certain qualities and attributes.
During World War II, polyurethanes were widely used as a replacement for rubber, which was expensive and hard to obtain during this era. Additionally, other polyurethane applications were developed, such as coatings of different kinds, from resistant clothing to airplane finishes.
Why is Polyurethane Used?
Unlike other synthetic compounds, polyurethanes are heat resistant and will not melt when heated. This is especially beneficial when rolling on hot pavement.
Additionally, due to the synthetic nature, it can be formulated in many different ways, depending on the needed application. Color can be added, the shape can be easily formed, and finally, it can survive sheer pressure, which is advantageous especially when doing jump tricks and consecutive beating.
Skateboard Wheel Production
Take a glimpse of how we process our polyurethane skateboard wheels.
1. Melting and Mixing Polyurethane
Two polyurethane compounds are processed separately before combining together in heated, high-pressure metering machines.
First, the high-quality polyurethane is mixed at high temperature, then the low-quality polyurethane is mixed at room temperature. These polyurethanes are treated at different temperatures because they have their respective heat-absorbing property
These compounds are then mixed together while being heated in the process. If a color needs to be added, the pigment is added in this mixing stage.
Once the mixture has been thoroughly mixed, it is poured into aluminum molds through a mixing chamber then allowed to cool down and harden up into a solid form.
2. Cooling and Hardening
The cooled down, solid wheel logs are then removed by hand and placed on trays. Several wheel molds are running at the same time on the conveyor system.
The wheel logs are manually cut into shape by hand. The sidewalls and the riding surface, also known as the tread, are then shaped into the proper wheel shape.
3. Adding the Designs
If you wish to decorate the already made wheel, then it will proceed with a semi-automated process of digitally printing the design to the sidewalls with the use of a pad printing machine.
The silicone pad is placed on an inked printing plate then transfers images to the wheels. Wheel designs that have more than one color go through multiple printing pads with different ink colors and are printed consecutively until the design is achieved.
4. Assembly and Storage
Once the wheels have completely been made, they will proceed to join the other components of a skateboard to be finally assembled, packed, and stored for shipment.
Now that you have known the process of manufacturing polyurethane skateboard wheels, you will have knowledge that you can share with your customers. It is essential that we can explain to them queries if ever it comes up as an effective way to show professionalism and product knowledge.
Here in VZG, our mission is to exceed customer expectations by giving premium-grade products and customer service. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our online support system if you need any assistance, you can send us an enquiry in here.