What Are Ping Pong Balls Made Of? And How?

Balls are the primary and crucial element in several sports, and ping pong is among them. However, the ping pong sport has many unique characteristics and behavior that always require modifications.

Hence, the ping pong ball has also seen many makeovers. Recent years saw the transition of their substance from celluloid to plastic, which led to an evolution in the creation process.

In this article, we will take a deeper look into what ping pong balls are made of, why their material was changed, and how it affected the sport. Everything you need to know, we will explain.

A Quick Background

Celluloid was the primary material for making ping pong balls for a century. However, some issues led ITTF to make quick decisions. As celluloid production is deteriorating, and it is an extremely volatile material, it also carries some shipping and storage constraints.

Therefore, the ITTF authorized non-celluloid balls prepared from a plastic material. With a handful of additional benefits, this material still carries some of the similar characteristics of celluloid.

After this sanction, global events now utilize poly-plastic balls. However, celluloid balls are still usable for local competitions and recreational play.

What Are They Really Made Of?

Ping Pong Balls

Ping pongs balls are made of plastic, and that is the only official material ITTF allows for the professional game. The evolution from celluloid to plastic impacted the game. The existence of a ping pong ball starts its path from being a small plastic sheet, but as the process goes on, things take a massive turn.

The advancement towards plastic material and its widespread usage in daily life also made it rather natural to exchange with an obsolete material like celluloid. ITTF chose plastic for its abundant supply, less temperature maintenance requirements, and highly sturdy form.

Gradually, with a newer substance on the market known as ABS plastic coming forward, manufacturers also favor it to make their ping pong ball even stronger and better in quality.

The Process

Before it is chapped, all the plastic sheets are weighed, estimated, and scanned for quality to confirm the balls’ qualifying standard. Then comes the shaping of the ball hubs, where the circular copperheads press the sheets so hard that they get into shape.

During this process, the maker drips hot water on the sheets to prevent cracking and have a seamless texture. After finalizing the shaping, the manufacturer trims the rugged edges and solders the ball hubs to maintain a firm structure.

Next, they lay the ball hubs in pairs in the gluing machine’s copper modes. And lastly, they disperse the balls in linen bags, then send them to another hole that gives them the final touches and solidifies the circular structure.

Manufacturers must maintain and stock the completed balls at a particular humidity and temperature. As the balls flee the storage room, next comes quality control.

Each ball must undergo a severe inspection via the automatic assembly line to assess if it is worthy for competitions. The next step is to test the ball by hand to complete the quality check. This ensures they are ready for play, and there are no defects.

Effects of Plastic Balls on Ping Pong

The introduction of plastic balls to ping pong massively changed the game and influenced players in significant ways. In a rally, plastic ping pong balls have more bounce than the celluloid ones.

They also fly relatively fast; however, mastering spin with them is a challenge. Although the transition did not have any life-altering changes, it did require some warming up to.

Now ping pong balls have lend players many advantages, especially in playing a fast attack game. As the ball has a high flight, there is no need to add complicated spin strategies to ace a fast-paced game.

Such players hit the ball right after the bounce and before it can reach the highest trajectory point. So, there is less effort and more gain for these players. Champions like Lesson are among the players who dominated the game with plastic ping pong balls. He took the gold medal for his fast-paced gaming style.

Such balls allow hard strokes that can also become difficult for the opponent to return. Moreover, these balls produce a distinct yet satisfying clack sound than celluloid ones.

However, the primary difference is how plastic lends a more rigid surface, rendering it strong and sturdy. Hence, you know it will last longer and be the best in playing the game.

Nevertheless, some players struggled with adapting to the plastic material and its distinctive characteristics. Defensive players applying backspin had difficulty getting used to this material that was not very giving with delivering spin.

Moreover, the topspin players attacking from half-distance faced difficulties, too, as they had to switch strategies and practice more. The ball comes fast and gives very little time for reaction. Therefore, such players could not generate as much spin as before.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Inside a Ping Pong Ball?

A ping pong ball is primarily made with hard plastic sheets and filled with regular air at ambient pressure. It also has a matte finish. With the lack of any gas name mentioned on ping pong balls, they generally only carry pressurized air to make them weigh right and bounce well.

Are Ping Pong Balls Flammable?

While it is unlikely a modern ping pong ball could ignite while playing, they remain very flammable. When you touch a flame to it, it instantly burns from the contact from one side to the other because of the adhesive utilized to glue the plastic sheets together to form the ball.

Are Ping Pong Balls Toxic?

No, ping pong balls are not toxic in general but have been reported to release noxious gases when they burn. Remember to always store your ping pong ball in a place that does not have a scorching temperature. This can affect its plastic material, and it can eventually be toxic; otherwise, it is safe.

Are Ping Pong Balls Safe For Pets (Dogs, Cats or Fish)?

While ping songs are generally safe for pets and have the appropriate weight and size for playing, it is best to ensure the balls are of good quality and sturdy enough that they do not break and that you supervise your pet, too. Ensure they don’t swallow or chew the ball.

Why Do Ping Pong Balls Bounce So Much?

When hitting a ping pong ball at the table, it bounces a lot because it is made of plastic and is completely hollow inside. The pressurized air inside lends it high bounce and speed. The ball compresses inward briefly and returns to its initial shape; this causes it to push off the table surface with a good rebound.

In Conclusion

Ping pong balls have seen some serious evolution that enabled high bouncing tendency with faster flights. The plastic material lends these balls enough properties for usage in competitive matches and for it to be the official material approved by ITTF.

A good ping pong ball is the need in every game to ensure all the game necessities work together well. Altogether, they provide a complete and professional experience in the quick-paced sport of ping pong.

Also Check Out: What Are Ping Pong Tables Made Of? (Complete Overview)

Bradley Anderson - SportsDean
Bradley Anderson
Bradley Anderson hails from the northwestern United States and brings nine years of professional table tennis experience to SportsDean. He began playing as a child in local table tennis leagues and continued playing through college, where he founded and coached his own players’ association, the Table Tennis Teamsters, in 2011.

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