How to Make a Tennis Ball
Though all eyes are usually on the technique of the player during a tennis match, often overlooked is the technical precision of the ball. An essential part of the game, tennis balls are expected to perform to extremely high technical standards, bouncing and flying through the air with perfect consistency. Their manufacture is something of a manufacturing marvel. You can watch a video here and follow a description of the process below.
The manufacturing of a tennis ball begins with a soft rubber that has been pulverized between two rollers to give the material a firmer and less rubber-like quality. From here, rubber plugs are produced. These plugs form the half shells that make up the interior of the ball.
After being coated with adhesive, the two half shells are bonded together using an intense heat and pressure process called vulcanizing. The process creates a unbreakable joint between the two halves.
Just before the two halves are bonded together, a quick blast of pressurized air creates the correct pressure within the ball. A ball intended for use at a high altitude for instance has a low pressure, while those intended for sea level play are slightly more pressurized. The pressure achieves ensures a consistent bounce at the altitude the ball is expected to be used at.
The rubber surface of the now sphere is next sanded to create a rough surface and a layer of adhesive is applied as the ball tumbles through a spinning drum of glue.
Next, a felt cover is made from two pieces of dumbbell shaped material. These pieces of material pass through a glue vat before being applied to the ball. The covering is either done by machine or by hand, with hand covering being the more accurate method.
Next, air bubbles are removed in a rolling machine and then the balls move on to another vulcanizing process, whereby the felt covering is bonded firmly to the rubber sphere. Finally a quick tumble dry and the balls are finally packed into an air tight can.
The result is an incredibly durable surface that can withstand the pounding from rackets of the world’s best and most powerful players!