If you’ve ever walked into a daycare centre, restaurant play area, kiddies play venue or even watched competitive game shows such as MTN Gladiators you might have seen these brightly coloured items in various shapes that is being played with this is what is known as “soft play equipment”.
What is soft play equipment
Soft play equipment is a foam product (often high-density) that is covered with a brightly coloured material this can be PVC or another type of vinyl. The most important feature of these toys are safety, you saw this in Gladiators where people were being hit and fell against this product. But it is most often used in kids play areas for the same reason: no sharp edges, soft cushioning if they fall etc. These toys are also used by occupational therapists.
How is soft play equipment made
Soft play equipment is a foam that has been covered with a synthetic material (PVC, vinyl) and then stitched and/or glued. That is the simplified explanation. People who build it professionally use a layout software to plan their designs, this will give them an idea what sizes foam to order and how much material they will need. It will also help them lay the design out especially if they are doing custom orders a client has to sign off on the design. The design software used can be a CAD program, 3D program like SketchUp some even use vector graphics editors like CorelDRAW. On the high end when building complete play pens it is not unheard of to use SolidWorks. The requirements are not that advanced that it necessitates high-end software and small businesses who do this often use whatever they are comfortable with and what they have taught themselves. This is not a product where military precision is required.
This is a product that can be sold wherever small children play: crèches, waiting rooms, play areas. The same technique can also be used to make soft floors or day care centre mattresses. There is a lot of potential in this business as there are not a lot of competition outside of major areas.
Image credits: Hertz Furniture Systems