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How is a soccer ball produced?

DESIGN IDEAS - CUSTOM EDITION SOCCERBALL BALLS

We make logo printed soccer balls! We design and manufacture soccerballs! That's why we thought it would be good to share a work process on how soccer balls (including ours) are made. Obviously, when you want a special design, it is not possible to print the design on an already round, manufactured ball, let's see what kind of process it goes through!

Soccer Ball Build - A football has four main components. These are as follows:

  • Skin

  • Stitch

  • Liner

  • Bladder

Understanding the four main components and the variables of each can help you choose the best football structure for your needs.

 

Leather
The surface or exterior of a soccerball is made of synthetic leather and not full grain leather (as it has been used over the years). Leather tends to get wet in water causing the soccer ball to be very heavy. Synthetic leathers are typically made from two materials - PU (polyurethane) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). There are many types of synthetic leather used to make soccer balls. AI-2000, Japanese Teijin Cordley, Microfiber, English Porvair, Korean Ducksung, Pakistani Leather, Faux Leather and PVC. Top quality soccer balls used by semi-professionals and professionals in matches are produced using materials such as AI-2000, Cordley, Ducksung, Microfiber or other PU synthetic leather. Promotional soccer balls or cheaper practice balls are usually made of PVC or rubber (molded or stitched) or a combination of PVC and PU covers. Onosport personalized soccer balls can be produced from PU or PVC material according to customer preference. This is the part that the end user will see with all the graphics printed on it.

 

Panel

The number of panels - the different sections that make up the outer cover of a soccer ball, varies for each soccer ball type. The 32-panel ball is the most common and is the style used in most professional matches. The soccer ball is essentially a Buckminster Ball consisting of 20 hexagonal (six-sided) and 12 pentagonal (five-sided) surfaces. Also known as a truncated icosahedron, it saves because it is more spherical. This is because the panels inflate due to the pressure of the air inside the soccer ball when inflated. When the panels are sewn together and inflated, the panels form an almost perfect sphere. Football can be manufactured as 18 and 26 panels. Promotional balls can be made from 30 or 28 panels to include larger panels on other sides of the ball. This is done to provide more printing area when producing logo and branded soccerball. Balls with a smaller number of panels usually mean that the ball is less stable when kicked and can curl more. Panels of a soccer ball can be sewn together, glued or thermally molded. What are the differences?

 

  • Stitched

The highest quality balls are sewn with polyester or similar material thread. 5-ply twisted polyester cord or nylon waxed cord will be the material of choice when sewing a soccerball together. Hand-stitched soccer balls have tighter and stronger seams. High-quality balls were sewn by hand, while the lowest and mid-priced balls were machine-sewn. The sewing is completed by completely turning the ball over and sewing the panels individually by hand. This is done so that none of the stitches are shown on the outside. Nylon waxed twine is also used to prevent water intake. Tight, strong hand seams prevent water from getting inside the ball. Machine stitched soccer balls are normally produced in China, Pakistan or India with hand stitched balls. A hand-sewn ball takes about 3 hours and one loop to complete. Can you imagine how many people work to sew during the peak retail sale of thousands of balls?

 

  • Sticking

Low-end, inexpensive PVC practical balls are usually made by gluing the panels onto the lining. These types of soccerball have a harder feel and are slightly less expensive than hand or machine stitched balls. The Thermally Molded soccer ball is the third alternative. The 2010 World Cup football, Jubalani by Adidas has panels that are thermally formed together.

Liner
The thickness of the material plays a huge role in the quality and usability of the hand-sewn soccer ball. Multiple layers of lining are placed between the lid and the inner bladder. These layers are produced with polyester and cotton. The materials are laminated together to give the ball strength, structure and bounce. This important part of the manufacturing process will help the ball maintain a consistent bounce. Top quality balls, including personalized soccerball, have four layers of lining. We also call them 4-ply soccer balls. Cheaper promotional or practice balls are usually made with fewer layers of lining. Promotional soccer balls consist of 2 layers of lining and training balls of 3-4 layers. 3 for toddlers

Bladder

The inner sac of a soccerball is what traps air. This is the part that looks like a Balloon. Bladders are usually made of latex or butyl. Butyl bladders retain air for a much longer period of time than their latex counterparts. However, latex bladders tend to provide better surface tension. Butyl bladders offer a better combination of contact quality and air retention. Butyl bladders are the bladder of choice over higher quality soccer balls, with latex making it the inner tube for cheaper promotions and training soccer balls. Higher-level soccer balls use a butyl valve for air retention. The silicone valve for inflating the ball is often used in soccer balls for the smooth insertion of the metal inflation pin and greater protection against air loss. When you first buy a soccer ball, it's a good idea to put a few drops of silicone oil in the spout. This will allow for easier needle insertion and better air retention and will prevent damage to the bladder. Rubber latex bladders provide the softest feel and response, but not the best air retention. Micropores in the material allow air to escape from inside. Footballs with latex bladders need to be reinflated much more frequently (at least once a week) than soccers with butyl bladders that are fully inflated once a week.

How to Assemble a Hand Stitched Soccerball?

The first stage of production is the opening of the material to be used for the outer casing of the ball. These are typically giant sheets of the chosen primary color. The enclosure is usually made of several layers of synthetic foam-filled sheets (panels) joined together to create a rigid and smooth exterior. The panels are cut into the exact pentagon and hexagon needed to make a ball. These panels are pre-printed with any brand name and graphics before being cut into desired shapes. All logos, print and color designs are printed on the material at this point. Here, as Onosport, we print the desired logo for a branded ball on the material. Printing is typically completed by hand screen printing on the coating material. This printing method can be done by hand or by machine. A coating can be applied for extra protection. The required number of individual panels are cut and holes are pre-drilled in preparation for sewing. Once collected, the ball is quality checked, cleared of all debris and ready to be shipped to its destination country.

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