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Elements of Soccer Balls

 

  1. Cover (Panels)
  2. Thermal Bonding & Stitching
  3. Internal Linings (Polyester or Cotton)
  4. Bladder (Latex or Butyl)

 

  1. Cover (Panels)

    The coverings of a soccer ball are made up from synthetic leather and not full grain leather (as used in the past) because leather has a tendency to absorb water causing the ball to become very heavy. Synthetic leather is typically made from PU (polyurethane). There are many variations of synthetic leather used in the construction of soccer balls. They range from AI-2000, Japanese Teijin Cordley, Microfiber, English Porvair, Korean Ducksung, Leather Art Pakistan Synthetic Leather, and PVC (poly vinyl chloride). The highest quality synthetic leather is produced by using AI-2000, Cordley, Ducksung, Mircofiber or other types of PU synthetic leather.
    The first stage is to roll out the material to be used for the cover of the ball. The cover is usually made from several layers of synthetic foam-filled leaves which are called panels and these are glued (laminated) together to produce a durable, smooth exterior. Before the panels are edged off and cut into the exact amount brand names, logos and graphics are added to the panels. Printing is typically accomplished by silk-screening onto the cover material. After printing, the material may have another layer of clear urethane (or another proprietary material) applied over the printing for protection.

    The number of panels varies for each design.A 32-panel ball as seen above is traditionally the most common type of soccer ball used but now the amount panels can be as low as 6 for the cover. Other traditional designs are 18 and 26-panel constructions, used in various professional leagues, including Major League Soccer (until 2002), Scottish and English leagues. Fewer panels generally mean the ball is more aerodynamic and curves when kicked because of less stability to the cover. Panels can be stitched, glued or thermally bonded together.

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  2. Thermal Bonding & Stitching

    Thermally-bonded soccer balls use a process in which panels are fused together for an incredibly tight seam, making the ball perfectly spherical and less absorbent. Typically found in professional matches, thermally-bonded soccer balls deliver an optimal flight pattern.
    Even though MI specialize in thermally bonded soccer balls if desired by the customer we can produce stitched soccer balls. The highest quality stitched balls are stitched with a polyester or similar thread. 5-ply twisted polyester cord is used for stitching together a soccer ball. Hand sewn balls have tighter and stronger seams.

  3. Internal Linings (Polyester or Cotton)

    Material thickness plays a vital part in the quality of soccer balls. Multiple layers of lining are placed between the cover and the bladder. These layers are composed of polyester and/or cotton bonded (laminated) together to give the ball strength, structure and bounce. Professional soccer balls usually have four or more layers of lining. Promotional or practice balls are often constructed with less layers of lining. The lining helps the ball retain it’s shape and bounce over the life of the ball. Many soccer balls include a foam layer for added cushioning and ball control.

  4. Bladder (Latex or Butyl)

    The bladder in a soccer ball holds the air. Bladders are usually made from butyl. Compared to latex bladders, butyl bladders retain air for longer periods of time. Latex bladders tend to provide better surface tension. However butyl bladders offer an excellent combination of contact quality and air retention.
    Most balls use butyl valves for air retention, with higher end balls using a silicone-treated valve for superior performance. Silicone treated valves are used on some balls for smooth insertion of the inflating needle and added protection from air loss.
    Natural Latex Rubber bladders offer the softest feel and response, but do not provide the best air retention. Micro pores slowly let air escape. Balls with natural rubber bladders need to be re-inflated (at least once a week) more often than balls with butyl bladders (stay properly inflated for weeks at a time). Some balls use carbon-latex bladdersin which the carbon powder helps to close many of the micro pores.

    Latex bladders are used in balls because of the following characteristics:
    A- It gives proper bounce.
    B- It feels softer.
    C- Same angle re-bounce characteristics.