A slipmat is a 12-inch size piece of circular felt, that sits on the deck platter of your turntable. The purpose of the slipmat is to help the deck platter keep rotating while you are either changing a record, or doing any mixing. The importance of the slipmat really comes into effect when you want to start a record at a precise moment in the record.
For DJ's that are scratching the slipmatt is essential, as you don't want to fight the force of the motor that is turning, you want a smooth scratch which comes from the slipmat.
As a note also, if you are just starting out there is normally a rubber mat on the top of the deck platter too. This isn't a new high tech piece of slipmat. Its just a protector, and should be removed.
Although you might just think that your felt piece of carpet is just that, it has had more though and design going into it than you probably expect. This is why there is a wide market for slipmat makers. Over time your slipmat will start to tear and fray, so be sure to invest in a good one.
Slipmat design factors include the thickness of the slipmat, and also the weight of the slipmat. The best type of slipmat is one that is made from a compacted felt, and it should also be light and as thin as possible. A heavy or fluffy slipmat will drag extra friction on the deckplatter, and this will reduce the amount of time when you need a record to start playing again aquick, and you could even find that you miss the cue completly.
Slipmats have become more than a fucntion part of the DJ toolbox, they have also become a relecftion of the Dj's personality. Normally a DJ will be on the lookout for a special logo, or color style that the feel represents them perfectly. This is perfectly fine, however don't skip on the quality of the slipmat, just because you like the design. Your repuation will then need more than a good logo on the slipmat to be restored.
You will have to watch that the printed chemicals you use don't start to crack, as they will just ruin the underside of your records, without you even noticing. I would actually recommend a simple black or white slipmat. This will stop any damage to your records.
When you have your turntable running, and you hold the record, the force that is sill applied by the motor is called the torque. This directly affects the ease at which the deck platter keeps turning. This is one of the most important things to recognize early on in your DJ career. Since there are 2 types of turntables, and these are belt driven, and direct driven. The direct driven one is what a real DJ should be using and a belt driven turntable should be used by someone who just wants to play some records at home.
The amount of friction created between these surfaces is important. You have to train yourself to get the proper technique correct. Too much pressure will cause too much friction, and you will struggle to mix other records, and spend more time wondering why its so difficult. So spend some time studying the technique that you are using to touch the records. You should know where the limits are, at both ends of the scale.
There are even a number of products called flying carpets that help create even less friction between the slip mat and the deck platter.