Playground Manufacturing, Equipment Trends, New Materials

Winter 2014

Playground Manufacturing

I love playgrounds, and I love hanging around playgrounds when there are kids there having fun. Having been an independent playground builder for over thirty years has given me first hand knowledge of playground equipment and playground surfacing. I was around at the beginning of the CPSC and ASTM documents, and I have watched as manufacturers have adapted to these guidelines to provide quality, durable, and safe playground equipment. 

Personally, I am very proud of our industry and the steps we have taken to ensure that parks and play areas receive great options for design, strength, play value, and safety. Today you can choose from thousands of components in dozens of colors produced from a variety of manufacturing materials. Manufactured playgrounds are taller, faster, and more fun than ever before. Arizona has a fifty-foot net climber; there are playgrounds on rooftops in Idaho and underground playgrounds in New York. There are playgrounds that are multiple acres in size and can accommodate hundreds of children of all abilities. Today’s playgrounds are simply awesome.

The 1980s were tough times for playground equipment manufacturers. The development of safety specifications resulted in a period of uncertainty about the future of playground equipment and its potential. I remember building boring playgrounds in the late ’80s and wondering if play was actually ruined by implementing manufacturing and safety guidelines. Of course, playground equipment and playground surfacing manufacturers have not ruined play, but in fact they have developed play equipment that moves more, lasts longer, is more affordable, and has better play value than what you or I played on.

This gives us cause to celebrate playgrounds and play areas as beneficial to our health and well-being. I am confident that the playground industry will continue to develop and manufacture wonderful play components. If you want to really tease your brain, try visualizing playgrounds fifty years from now. If you have some good ideas, get in touch with a manufacturer and get the idea into your local park!


Go play today!

In This Issue...

Gametime Triple-Slide
By: Jay Beckwith
Two main elements are the primary factors that have determined how playgrounds look and perform: concept and technology. Over the past century we have seen the concept of what a playground is evolve continuously from basic fitness apparatus to expressions of civic identity. An often overlooked...
Landscape Structure's Pulse Table
By: Mara Kaplan
Inclusion occurs when children with disabilities unconditionally participate in regular recreation opportunities in their own community. In terms of playgrounds this means that a family who is raising a child with disabilities should be able to go to the park where the neighborhood children are...
Cascade Play poured-in-place
By: Walt Henderson
Have you ever driven by a beautiful new playground and thought “That looks really good. I wonder who made the equipment, and who supplied the surfacing?” It’s easy to forget that the second part of the question, “Who supplied the surfacing?” would, not so long ago, probably have sounded silly. That...
International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association
By: IPEMA Association
Consumer product safety is a perennial topic of concern, and (thankfully) we have all witnessed industries and consumer products that have made enormous strides over relatively short periods of time to improve the safety of users, especially so when the primary target users are children. The...
Using light for play
By: Anne-Marie Spencer
It hasn't been too many decades ago, when playgrounds were made primarily of steel, with some wood accents. Although those play spaces may have provided an outlet for physical exercise, they did little to inspire, provoke an aesthetic appeal, or lend comfort to the play experience. Fast forward to...
Voice of Play
By: IPEMA Association
In early 2006, over ten years after its inception, the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association (IPEMA) was gaining the industry’s attention. The equipment and surfacing certification programs, which so many members worked so hard to get up and running, were a success, and membership...
Nature Play
By: The Play and Playground Magazine
Active Playground Equipment A Canadian manufacturer of commercial playground equipment committed to sustaining the environment, APE manufactures traditional post and deck equipment, deckless equipment, independent motion-based equipment, outdoor fitness equipment, surfacing, and shade features....