Tuesday November 8th, 2016

Read about the latest sports tech news, innovations, ideas and products that impact players, fans and the sports industry at SportTechie.com.

California-based company New Ground Technology (NGT) recently finalized production and delivery plans for the TurfPrinter, a machine that harnesses the power of air to create high-definition image reproductions on turf.

TurfPrinter’s “digital printing system transforms a sports field from a flat green slate, to a field of high-definition imagery,” Pete Davis, Founder and CEO of NGT said in a video on the company’s website.

The sports industry has been using large expanses of grass as a makeshift canvases for years. By bending the turf in opposing directions, groundskeepers manipulate the way light reflects off blades of grass and produce patterns visible to fans in attendance and watching on TV.

With the TurfPrinter, NGT modernized an old landscaping technique to produce surprising results. An ultra precise Topcon GPS system in the field, communicates with a mobile receiver on the mower itself to plot the exact location an image is to be reproduced, according to the company’s website.

NGT works collaboratively with clients to make sure chosen images work seamlessly with the TurfPrinter system. Staffers convert image files to TurfPrintFX code that is recognized by the TurfPrint controller and then it is ready to print.

“The process is simple. The desired imagery is converted into machine code (and) the equipment, guided by GPS, travels in a straight line with streams of air gently bending the turf (and) creating the desired image,” Davis said.

In April, the San Francisco Giants asked NGT to reproduce the team’s historic logo on the park’s outfield grass. On the night before opening day, using the TurfPrinter, NGT worked alongside the Giants’ grounds crew to print a 160-foot “SF” logo in centerfield.  

“This is the first time on planet earth, and on the SF Giants’ home field, that digital technology has been used to print an image by a machine on turf,” Davis told Athletic Turf News at the time.  

NGT built its TurfPrinter technology onto the chassis of a CubCadet Pro Z100 mower. The CubCadet’s versatile drivetrain made it the right match for NGT’s technology that depends on straight lines and minimal course variation.

The entire process of recreating an image on turf is environmentally friendly, uses no paint or dye and takes a similar amount of time as it would to traditionally mow the same area of grass.

“Advanced mobile digital technology, improved GPS hardware, refined machinery and dedicated software has enabled us to develop a digital printing solution that lets any field tell its story,” Davis said.

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