An ice resurfacer is a vehicle or hand-pushed device used to clean and smooth the surface of an ice sheet, usually in an ice rink. The two major manufacturers are Resurfice Corporation, which sells Olympia-brand machines, and Frank J. Zamboni & Company. The first ice resurfacer was developed by Frank Zamboni in 1949 in the city of Paramount, California. Zamboni /zæmˈboʊni/ is an internationally registered trademark.
What’s the problem?
For ice skating sports, it is important to have a smooth flat ice surface. As skaters perform or play, the ice surface becomes rough and uneven. Mr. Zamboni came up with a great idea for a machine to resurface ice quickly and easily.
- Ask – How can the ice surface be made smooth quickly and easily?
- Imagine – The process of resurfacing ice requires cleaning off the uneven surface and then “flooding” the surface – spraying a thin layer of water over the ice to fill in any holes or grooves so the surface is smooth without taking very long to refreeze. What kind of machine could do this? There are many kinds of farm machines that do something similar. They are driven around the field (surface) and alter the surface (dig, plant, fertilize, harvest). How could this be adapted for ice resurfacing?
- Design, Build – The ice resurfacer driver guides the machine around the ice surface. As it goes, it cleans the ice of any chips or “snow” into a special hopper. Then a thin layer of hot water is sprayed on the ice which quickly freezes leaving a smooth surface.
- Improve – There have been many improvements since the original ice resurfacer was created in 1949 but the process is still the same.