Have you always wondered why the pool ball is so tough? When I first saw a pool ball, something struck my mind, making me think, what are the pool balls made of?
If you’re inquisitive and you want to know the answer as well, then keep on reading!
What are pool balls made of?
The material which the pool ball is made from is a phenolic resin. It is the best available raw material for making all kinds of pool and billiards game ball. It is used by all pool ball brands that are focused on making quality pool balls.
Modern pool balls are made for toughness and are resistant to chipping and scratching. The phenolic resin is the beauty behind this great invention.
The balls are strong enough to hold shots of any force from the cue stick, bounce, and ending up in the pocket without any damage.
The history behind balls for pool
Before the phenolic resin balls came into place, the first set of pool balls were made of wood, and were not expensive.
The interest of the Europeans and Americans helped changed the game when they made pool balls from ivory, which was found in elephant tusk.
The ivory was seen as an upgrade to the wooden balls, but at some point, they aged.
Most of the time, an ivory ball became damaged and did change color after being played for a long time.
They may even crack if force is added to the shots.
Over the years, the increased demand for different products made from the elephant tusk threatened the existence of the animals, especially in Africa or Asia.
Hyatt’s failed attempt
The pool and billiards game had gained fame than ever, and the need to develop a solid new ball that ages less arose.
Some volunteer contributors offered customers a certain amount of money to come up with a non-Ivory pool ball that could withstand humidity.
A certain man, Hyatt experimented with camphor, nitrocellulose, and alcohol, forming a spherical ball under intense pressure.
Here’s a YouTube video about nitrocellulose:
Although Hyatt balls weren’t seen as the close substitute for Ivory balls, they were the first set of synthetic plastic balls to be made.
The nitrocellulose wasn’t a stable substance, and on rare occasions, the balls may explode when hit with force.
The condition of the balls was unchanged despite other developments.
The Story of Phelan Leo Baekeland
In the early 1900s, Phelan Leo Baekeland developed his pool balls made from Bakelite, a substance that resembled plastic in its characteristics.
Unlike the nitrocellulose type of balls, the Bakelite type was durable and didn’t explode when force was added to the stroke shots. A few years later, Bakelite pool balls were widely received, and the mass production began, it was also easy to produce.
For developmental reasons, Bakelite pool balls evolved and have been the best.
Nowadays, modern plastic resin balls have successfully captured everyone’s attention.
Phenolic Resin Balls
Of all the different ball types that have surfaced, phenolic resin balls have been tested the best.
They are five times durable than previous balls, even polyester billiard balls.
The makeup of the balls allows them to hold the gloss polish for a more extended period; hence, friction is less between the cushion and the balls.
The ball comes with balance at the true center, giving a chance for an accurate roll wherever the ball is stroked.
The first time the balls were tested was in 1907 in New York.
How are Phenolic resin balls made?
Phenolic resin balls are easy to produce, provided you have the standard requirements and conditions. It entails a lot of careful steps but the basic concept behind the production is mixing the hydrocarbon, phenol with formaldehyde.
One good property of the phenolic resin is that it can be molded easily into any surface, hence the reason for its sophisticated production process.
Phenolic resin has been regarded as the best material for making pool balls, having overcome the stress of stroke, and has met the game’s demand.
The pool balls can withstand any weather condition and not change shape or form.
Phenolic resins can have the ability to survive any extreme temperature.
You can play with the pool ball anywhere in the world. The balls can as well be left uncovered for any duration because of this property.
How durable are Phenolic resin balls?
A phenolic resin pool ball will never chip or break on the stroke of any cue tip texture. The molecular structure of the material has a compact and robust bonding that prevents it from shattering.
How many players would have been kicked out from shattering a cue ball if not for this feature?
Phenolic resin has uniform density all around, this helps the same momentum to be transferred to the next ball.
Bakelite pool balls are smooth on all surfaces. There’s little or no friction in between the cloth and the ball.
- Grade A deluxe quality - 2 1/4" regulation size and weight
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All the properties mentioned above have been useful to the pool game and have made the game conquered limitations that can occur when using the phenolic resin pool balls.
The other types of pool ball didn’t thrive in any extreme circumstances, and some couldn’t withstand break shot after extensive usage.
It is rare to compare any other material with the phenolic resin when making the pool ball.
All other balls of alternative material wouldn’t be endorsed after the invention of Phelan Leo Baekeland.
Now you know from what are pool balls made of! Let me know if you like the article!