We use flawlessly round balls for ping pong matches. But do you know how fascinatingly they are made? Let’s find out!
The process of making a ping pong ball involves many meticulous stages and requires high accuracy. Manufacturers make them on a production chain with professional workers and high-tech machines.
The balls that we see in every game have the same characteristics which are quite hard, high bouncing and rough surface. They all depend on the materials used for manufacturing.
So which provides the right bounce and other essential features? I’ll show you below!
What material is it made from?
Ping pong balls are made from celluloid which is a component of nitrocellulose and camphor and also the material of photographic-film.
However, some others consist of plastic polystyrene (poly). Although both types perform similarly in a game, poly balls are more environmentally friendly while celluloid balls are typically cheaper in price and more durable.
One thing to note is that the celluloid ball diameter is always 40 mm while the plastic poly balls may be slightly larger.
If you see a ping pong ball and want to know what its material is, you can look at the inscription on it. The celluloid balls will have “40mm” or just “40” printed on, whereas the plastic will always have “40+”.
All balls must undergo a series of quality checks to become competition-ready balls. Let’s go behind-the-scenes!
The process of manufacturing Ping pong balls
There are six steps in making a Ping pong ball: Shaping, Edge Trimming, Gluing, Quality Control, Logo Printing, and Packaging.
The following is the procedure of producing a celluloid ball.
Before getting shaped, all the circle and flat sheets of celluloid need to be weighed to make sure they have the same weight. Then, each one is soaked into alcohol until it softens.
People use hemispherical molds to produce each half of a ball. Each of the celluloid sheets will be pressed into one mold and then be hardened.
Next, the two halves of a ball will be trimmed along the edges. They must be in the same size to be properly attached. The halves are then transferred by hand into stations and glued with an alcohol-based adhesive.
The workers then carry them into a machine to smooth the seams around them. After finishing, a standard ball is the one with no seams that can be seen or felt.
People grade ping pong balls based on the smoothness of the seams, which requires hand-testing to have a close examination of the ball’s surface. They also verify their hardness, weights, and roundness by measurement machines.
If the seams still can be sensed by anyway, it will not be eligible for play and then usually be sold for other purposes.
Machines then will fill ping pong balls with air which is a combination of photographic film, model glue, and alcohol-based adhesives. But are ping pong balls toxic? I will have another article to explain it later.
After being checked, the printer will print the logo of the manufacturing brand on the surface of the balls. Finally, they are packaged and transported to the distributions.
What does the rating system mean?
All the ping pong balls on the market have a star rating that you would quickly notice. This rating system ranges from one to three stars which are equivalent to quality from lowest to highest.
It means you should look for three-star ping pong balls for your matches since the one or two-star balls used for training or practice are certainly less durable and broken quicker than the high standard options.
- One-star balls are soft and suitable for children or beginners to play.
- Two-star balls which have medium quality are quite sturdier than the lowest standard, suiting multiple-balls practice or training robot.
- Three-star balls are the best ones which must be used in real matches and is the only rating level approved for tournaments.
If you’re preparing for an upcoming competition and you need intensive training as well as actual performance assessment, then you should use good balls as a bulk 3-star pack just for this purpose.
Sometimes, you can buy a ping pong ball which does not have a rating star to play just for fun. They are not durable and will be cracked when hit too hard.
You can use either celluloid or plastic poly to play which does not matter. But due to celluloid production is on the decrease and it is assumed to be easily flammable, poly-plastic material is now preferable to use.
However, future manufacturing will respond to the availability of celluloid and market demand.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave it below. We will be pleased to answer them. And don’t forget to like and share this article if you think it’s useful and informative.
Source: Sport Life Z