What Is a Soccer Ball Made Of - Is There An Eco Friendly Option?

A. Soccer Ball Outer Cover

The outer cover is the outermost part of a soccer ball, which protects it from wear and gives the ball its appearance.

Traditionally, the material for the outer cover is made of pure leather. But leather has poor water resistance and gets heavy in wet playing conditions. And Leather is extremely harmful to animals and actually very toxic for the environment. In the 1970s, soccer ball manufacturers began coating leather with polyurethane, a synthetic material, to protect the ball from damages like scuffs and scratches. It also made the ball playable even in wet weather. However PU and Synthetic Leather is also toxic for earth.

The outer cover of modern soccer balls is made of synthetic leather for enhanced water resistance. Synthetic leather (coated with polyurethane) is the material for soccer balls used at the professional and top-flight level because it has the best feel for the ball. 

PVC is another material used for the outer cover. This plastic-like material is highly durable but offers less feel for the ball. PVC covers are also hard, which does not make them ideal for playing. Also PVC is one of the worst plastics we can make.

The cover for an indoor soccer ball is made of a material called felt, the same material that coats a tennis ball. Felt makes the ball more controllable on smooth surfaces. 

A1. Why We Use TPU material for our Soccer Balls?

TPU on the other hand is recyclable and biodegradable, making it an ideal choice for not only an eco friendly soccer ball, but also meets the standards for a high quality soccer ball. Many consumer goods made from traditional materials are often not recyclable and therefore are sent to landfills at the end of their lifespan and sadly this is not sustainable over time. TPU is environmentally friendly and offers manufacturers an alternative, allowing manufacturers and individuals to reduce their environmental waste. 

B. Inner lining For Soccer Balls

The inner lining is located between the bladder and the outer cover. The material it is made of determines how bouncy or how responsive a ball is.

Professional soccer balls, such as the ones used in the World Cup, have inner linings made of multiple layers. Often, they have four layers of polyester and cotton. Cotton gives softness to the ball while the polyester makes it durable and responsive. The material and thickness used determines how strong, durable, responsive, and bouncy a soccer ball is throughout its life.

Professional soccer balls have inner linings with multiple layers. Usually four or more layers of polyester and cotton. Polyester is what makes the ball responsive and durable. Cotton offers it the softness of feel.

Cheap, promotional, or practice balls have fewer layers of lining. Generally only two layers of polyester. This makes the ball feel harder, more difficult to control but still durable.

A foam layer is included in many footballs for greater ball control and cushioning.

C. Soccer Ball Bladders

The bladder is the part of the soccer ball which holds air. The most common bladder material is butyl because it is durable and retains air very well. Butyl's disadvantage is that it is easily deformed so it is less responsive when kicked. Bladders are built out of butyl or latex, being butyl the most commonly used material.

Butyl bladders retain air very well and for much longer periods (several weeks) and offer greater feel quality when compared to latex bladders.

However, butyl bladders are less responsive when kicked as soon as they get deformed which occurs more easily.

This kind of bladder material is used in the majority of middle to upper-priced footballs.

  • Latex bladders, due to their responsiveness and better surface tension, are the preferred choice in professional competitions.
  • Latex bladders’ disadvantages are that they tend to lose air much faster so they need to be filled frequently and latex isn’t as durable as butyl.
  • Natural latex rubber bladders have the softest responsiveness and feel.
  • Nevertheless, due to their micropores letting air slowly escape, their weak spot is air retention. They need to be re-inflated with greater frequency, once a week minimum.
  • Carbon-latex bladders, as the name suggests, have carbon powder inside of them to help close many of their micropores preventing them from losing air so quickly.

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