…Then you recognize the fuzzy texture of the ball’s fabric in no time. Tennis balls – we’ve all seen them.
Whether you’ve always prepared for the courts with your racket in hand or it’s just your dog’s favorite fetch toy, tennis balls are fairly common and easy to use.
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But how often have you really tried to understand the composition of a tennis ball and why it feels the way it does? Probably never, so we’ve got you covered.
For starters, it’s important to understand the tennis ball basics.
The general makeup of a tennis ball today is as simple as a felt-covered rubber shell filled with pressurized gas.
Their average sizes run between 2 ½ to 2 ⅝ inches in diameter with a weight of nearly 2 oz.
Sounds simple of course, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
The type of fabric textiles used for these tennis balls largely affects the durability and the type of tennis court the balls should be used in.
Understanding the Felt
Specifically, when it comes to the felts, there are two distinct categories of tennis balls: Extra-duty and Regular-duty felt.
Knowing the difference in the felt compositions can improve your play time depending on what court you’re playing on and how regularly you use the balls.
Extra-duty felt balls are recommended for hard courts. Due to the hardness of the court, it is essential to make sure that balls with durable felt are used, so they do not deteriorate from regular play.
These balls are composed of a thicker felt with extra nylon that is woven loosely around the ball’s core to ensure improved play for a more extended period.
On the other hand, if you tend to play on a clay court, regular-duty tennis balls are the best way to go. To minimize clay from entering under the felt, thinner felt is tightly woven around the ball’s core.
This material structure is used as a protective measure so that the clay doesn’t break through the felt and cause it to puff up, losing its overall quality.
The textile industry is complex and always evolving to fit current day needs for whatever the application may be.
Top tennis ball makers such as Penn and Wilson rely on quality felts and materials to maximize tennis performance levels. The felt designs and compositions are unique and custom for different uses and levels of play.
Leisure use tennis balls are more likely to be unwoven acrylic or Dacron; whereas high-performance balls are woven and made up of nearly 50-60% wool.
Tennis balls come in a range of felt options with different raw materials and blends that make a difference in a ball’s fuzziness, bounce, and shape.
Needle and woven felt manufacturers are available to provide innovation and customization for all sorts of high performance materials, applications and projects. The use of specialized textiles is apparent in industries such as aerospace, ballistic, and automotive continues to grow with time and new technologies and processes.
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