From this article you will learn how to produce soccer balls. We will consider the evolution of production technology and materials used in the manufacture of game shells.

Spherical objects resembling a modern ball have been known to mankind since ancient times. Games somewhat similar to football have been played since ancient times in China, Egypt, ancient Rome. More advanced prototypes of footballs appeared in the British Isles during the late Middle Ages. Pig bladders were used as a camera, and the role of the tire was most often performed by a buckskin covering. Such a design was not reliable, such a ball could fail after several strong blows. Scientific developments in the mid-19th century made it possible to replace the camera of animal origin with a rubber one, which was much stronger and gave the game projectile a shape more like a sphere.

The Maya Indians played ball with their feet as early as 1400 BC – Mesoamerican ball game

At the present stage, butyl and latex chambers are widely used. The former allow for a longer time to hold the injected air, but the latter have greater elasticity and provide a controlled rebound.

Despite the fact that the first projectile consisting entirely of synthetic materials was created in the early 1960s, footballs with a genuine leather tire were widely distributed until the end of the 80s of the last century. This is due to the fact that conservatives from the world of football (many of them were members of the FIFA executive committee) insisted that genuine leather balls are more convenient to control and that they provide greater impact force. At the same time, the disadvantages of such balls were much more significant, so the transition to synthetic materials was a matter of time.

Balls made of genuine leather were played at the pro level until the 90s of the 20th century.

The problem is that in wet weather, the skin quickly absorbs moisture and the football shell swells and becomes much heavier right during the game. Modern models of balls with a polyvinyl chloride or polyurethane tire (this material is used much more often) are characterized by increased strength, moisture resistance and smoothness. In addition, advanced technologies in the industry allow you to form a relief texture of the tire surface in order to improve the aerodynamic properties of the projectile and create additional grip with the material of boots and goalkeeper gloves, which allows you to control it with greater efficiency.

The first prototypes of modern soccer balls were a construction of 18 hand-sewn leather panels with a hole where a rubber chamber was inserted. After inflating the camera with a special tube, the hole in the tire had to be laced.

Some time later, the American architect Richard Buckminster proposed a classic, 32-panel ball design. This construction, consisting of 12 pentagons and 20 hexagons, has a scientific name – a truncated icosahedron. Thanks to the air pumped into the chamber, this geometric figure acquires a shape close to an ideal sphere. Such a design provided greater moisture resistance and durability of the ball.

Richard Buckminster is the inventor of the 32-panel soccer ball.

Over time, manufacturers abandoned the classic design and began to actively experiment with the number and shape of panels. These experiments led to the appearance of modern football shells, characterized by excellent sphericity and balancing.

At this stage , there are three ways to connect the panels into a single structure:

  • Machine stitching
  • Manual assembly (stitching)
  • Thermal bonding

Machine stitching is the least expensive way of making footballs. In addition, automation of the panel assembly process ensures high productivity. However, due to the fact that machine stitching uses a thin thread and, accordingly, a thin layer of tire material, this makes the projectile design extremely vulnerable. Balls produced using this technology are not intended for professional use.

Machine stitching is cheap.

The method of manual assembly allows you to make projectiles that are more durable. This method involves the use of thicker panels, needles and threads. A significant disadvantage is that the high complexity of the process per day allows you to produce only a few units of goods.

The manual side of the balls is reliable.

The most advanced and expensive panel assembly technology is automated thermal bonding. Reinforced nylon thread allows you to securely connect the polyurethane panels, both with each other and with the camera surface. The output is a solid spherical structure with excellent aerodynamic characteristics.

Thermal seams and robosborka – technologically.

If we talk about the countries producing soccer balls, the South Asian region is the leader here: Pakistan, Thailand, China, Vietnam. It is important to note that if you purchase branded products of leading brands, then you should not worry about the quality of the projectile, the entire production process is under strict control. The main thing is not to run into a cheap fake.

After reading this article, you got an idea about:

  • How and from what are football shells made
  • What ways of assembling the ball panels exist
  • Where most footballs are made
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