Plenty Of Bounce In New Design
A revolutionary new trampoline - without the traditional springs and looking a bit like an upside-down wicker basket - has been developed in Levin and might soon be marketed throughout the world.
Levin company Canvasland Holdings Ltd has begun manufacturing the trampoline, the first of its type anywhere, after patenting the design.
Canvasland owner Brendan Duffy says he sought investment from Technology New Zealand - which helps businesses to develop new products, processes and services - after being approached by University of Canterbury lecturer Keith Alexander. The trampoline design was Dr Alexander's brainchild.
"It needed to be 3m in diameter, put in a box, taken out and assembled by anyone in half an hour with no tools," Mr Duffy says.
The trampoline is to be tested soon at selected high-use locations around New Zealand. If successful, it will be mass-produced for the leisure market and exported by the end of 2000.
The design resembles a wicker basket, with rods of fibreglass extending horizontally outwards and the mat stretched across them. The rods are 12mm-thick "pultrusions" - fibreglass pulled through a shaping die and then through an oven to give greater tensile strength and durability.
The rods are made by Gisborne company Pultron Composites Ltd.
Mr Duffy says the innovative design fitted all the criteria for a successful new product.
"This will be competitive in terms of price and incredibly competitive in terms of safety," he says. "It's a unique design." Users have no steel bars to fall on, and children can not crawl underneath, where they can be hurt by others bouncing on the mat.
Dr Alexander, a lecturer in mechanical engineering, says his wife - a playcentre mother - said she would never let their kids on traditional trampolines because they were too dangerous. One study has put the number of hospitalisations each year from trampoline injuries at 2000 - the greatest number from any piece of playground equipment.
Dr Alexander says the figures got him thinking. "I thought - what if I could eliminate most of the accidents by getting rid of the springs and the steel frame, and making the trampoline lower to the ground?" The new trampoline is the result.