What Is a Ping Pong Ball Made Of? Secret Formula of Success!

This article will supply you with facts about ping pong balls and the short history behind their production.
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Last updatedLast updated: April 27, 2022
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Have you ever wondered what it is exactly that a ping-pong ball is made of? Well, if you did, you have come to the right place. Not only will you find out the answer to the previous question, but you will be treated to a brief history of ping-pong, the differences between the types of ping-pong balls on the market, and how to choose the best ping pong ball for your game.

What’s the original material of the ping-pong ball?

Before the invention of plastic, the ping-pong ball was made of a champagne cork. Ping-pong began as an after-dinner game in nineteenth-century England. Cork was the perfect material for a ping-pong ball because of its characteristics. Bouncing and elasticity are two attributes of cork that make it ideal for ping-pong. Back in the nineteenth century, the materials available to use were far less advanced than the equipment we use today, like the ping-pong robot. The iPong V300is a great ping-pong robot for professionals and amateurs to perfect their game

Brief history of ping-pong

Ping-pong Trusted Source The History Of Table Tennis. Facts About The Game That Some Call Ping Pong. Like most other sports, table tennis had humble beginnings as a “parlor game,” open to anyone with access to a table, paddle, and ball. The game began in the 1880s, when lawn tennis players adapted their game to play indoors during the winter. www.athleticscholarships.net began as a parlor game in the late 1880s. Anyone with access to a table, paddles, and a cork ball could play. Lawn tennis was another popular sport during that time, but fans of the sport couldn’t play it during the winter. That is when they decided to bring the sport inside; thus, table tennis was invented. The term ping-pong is trademarked by Parker Bros, the board game franchise. A British firm, J Jaques and Sons, named the sport.

Table tennis grew in favor fast. By 1901 tournaments had begun. In the 1920’s ping-pong saw a resurgence of popularity. 1922 saw the creation of the Ping-Pong Association, later renamed the Table Tennis Association. Many people played table tennis at the dining room table or their billiard table. During 1920-1950 Europe dominated the matches, winning all the rounds.

China and the United States played a friendly game of ping-pong during the 1970s. This gesture was a massive step towards ending the cold war, and Richard Nixon lifted the embargo on China. At the Olympic Games of 1988, which were in Seoul, South Korea, ping-pong was introduced as an Olympic sport.

From celluloid to plastic

In 1900 celluloid replaced cork as the material used for ping-pong balls. It became the new standard for the ball and was widely produced. Celluloid Trusted Source Celluloid: The Eternal Substitute | Science History Institute Before becoming a synonym for cinema, celluloid was never quite a star attraction. But able to imitate expensive materials like ivory, tortoiseshell, and linen, the first successful synthetic plastic played a subtle role in shaping consumer culture. www.sciencehistory.org is a plastic that was developed during the 1860s and 1870s. This plastic is clear, combustible, and was used for many products prior to the twentieth century. In the twentieth century, plastic made with synthetic polymers was introduced.

Recently, China began making plastic balls, and this innovative idea worked. Plastic ping-pong balls are made in one piece instead of celluloid balls that feature a seam down the middle. The benefits of plastic ping-pong balls are, they bounce higher than celluloid ones and fly faster. Some players have even had to alter their technique after introducing plastic ping pong balls.

What exactly are plastic balls made of?

Plastic ping-pong balls are made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene or ABS plastic. ABS plastic is a better choice for ping-pong balls than celluloid. This type of plastic has excellent qualities such as heat and abrasion resistance, surface hardness, and dimensional stability. These characteristics are what make ABS plastic perfect for ping-pong balls.

Plastic ball issues

There aren’t many disadvantages to using an ABS plastic ping pong ball. In fact, as soon as they were invented, they quickly became the new standard. One significant difference between the old celluloid balls and the new plastic ones is that the ball does not get as much spin when made of plastic. The two balls each produce a different sound.

Plastic ping pong balls are more about the speed and less about the spin.

Quality and price

ABS plastic ping pong balls are high quality. They are very durable and have a fantastic bounce. When looking to buy ping pong balls, examine to make sure the package reads “ABS Plastic” to avoid purchasing the wrong type of balls. The price of ping-pong balls varies depending on how many balls are in the box. For example, a twelve Nittaku 38mm 3-Star Balls pack costs $23.80.

New balls testing

There are many different ways new ping-pong balls are tested. They have to meet a strict list of requirements before being packaged for sale. New ping pong balls are tested on the following characteristics:

  • Veer is the measure of roundness and thickness and is tested by rolling the ball down a slight incline. It should go straight and not deviate off that path.
  • Bounce is tested by dropping the ball from a height of 305 millimeters onto a piece of steel. The bounce-back should reach a height of at least 240 millimeters.
  • Hardness is another trait that must be tested. A computerized machine is used to test the hardness of the ping-pong ball. It is pressed with a pin with some force; the indentation is then measured.
  • Thickness is calculated using an ultrasonic device. There is no requirement for thickness, though; this is just used for quality assurance.

How can it affect the sport?

Ping-pong has been affected since ABS plastic has replaced the use of celluloid in the production of balls. Players who rely on the spin have lost that ability with the new ABS plastic balls. The material doesn’t allow the ping-pong ball to spin like it once did. Those who have played the sport for many years with a celluloid ball now have to get used to using a ping pong ball made from different materials. The new balls are also larger than the celluloid-made balls. Plastic ping-pong balls will take getting used to, but in the long term, they will be beneficial to the game as well as safe since they are heat and flame resistant.

How to choose ping-pong balls?

What Is a Ping Pong Ball Made Of? Secret Formula of Success!

Choosing the right ping-pong ball could be a daunting task. When looking for a table tennis ball, you want to look at the star system.

Ping-pong balls are all given either one, two, or three stars. The balls with three stars are of the highest quality and the most long-lasting. One star ball will break and lose shape quickly. Beer Pong balls usually do not have any stars at all. The Butterfly 3-Star Ball R40+ is an example of a three-star, high-quality ball.

You will be able to find quality ping-pong balls anywhere. Department stores like Target and Walmart will have them. Sporting goods stores like Dick Sportings Goods are guaranteed to have ping-pong balls. Shopping for a ping-pong ball can be confusing if you do not know what to look for. Remember to always look at the star system printed on the front of the ping-pong ball. Once you get home, you can test your balls on the bounce by dropping the ball onto a steel board.

FAQ

How long do ping-pong balls last?

Ping-pong balls normally come in packs of twelve or twenty-four. A twelve-pack three-star quality ball will last approximately four months if you don’t lose the balls. Low quality, one-star balls will not last nearly as long and will need to be replaced frequently.

Does the color of a ping-pong ball matter?

Ping-pong balls come in two different colors, white and orange. The white balls are for green tabletops, while the orange is for blue.

What should the size of a ping-pong ball be?

The dimensions of a ping-pong ball should be 2.7 grams and have a diameter of forty millimeters. These are the international rules of table tennis.

What are the rules of ping-pong?

There are many official rules for ping-pong. Some of them are:

  • Games must be played until eleven points.
  • You must toss the ball straight up into the air when serving.
  • Touching the ball with your paddle hand is allowable.
  • Your non-paddle hand may not touch the table.

What should not be done in ping-pong?

There are things that should not be done in ping-pong. Those things are:

  • You may never hide the ball from the other player at any time during the game.
  • Do not place your hand on the net during a game of table tennis.
  • Do not move the table while the game is in play.
  • If playing doubles, you may not hit your ball out of turn.
  • Double hitting is a violation of the game.

Final thoughts

Ping-pong is a recreational activity that has come leaps and bounds since it was first invented in the late 1800s. From cork to celluloid to the current use of ABS plastic, the ping-pong ball has had a long history. Remember, when shopping for a ping-pong ball, you want to look for a three-star, durable, ABS plastic ball. If you are used to playing with a ball made of celluloid, you will need to adjust your game because the ball will feel different. Your plastic ping-pong ball should be tested on veer, bounce, hardness, and thickness.

References

1.
The History Of Table Tennis. Facts About The Game That Some Call Ping Pong.
Like most other sports, table tennis had humble beginnings as a “parlor game,” open to anyone with access to a table, paddle, and ball. The game began in the 1880s, when lawn tennis players adapted their game to play indoors during the winter.
2.
Celluloid: The Eternal Substitute | Science History Institute
Before becoming a synonym for cinema, celluloid was never quite a star attraction. But able to imitate expensive materials like ivory, tortoiseshell, and linen, the first successful synthetic plastic played a subtle role in shaping consumer culture.
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