How Is Soccer Ball Made?
(The Insanely Complete Guide 2019)
Today, I’m going to show the complete guide of how the soccer ball made.
After reading this blog, you’ll know:
“Wow, finally I know how the soccer ball is made;”
To your soccer ball supplier: “Your reason of delay this order SUCKS.”
“Does my current soccer ball supplier have these steps to guarantee the quality?”
Chapter #1: Soccer Ball Construction
All soccer balls could be easily divided into two parts: the bladder and the outer cover.
The process for different soccer balls are different, and the combination of the corresponding bladder and the outer cover is different as well.
Soccer ball in the world can be roughly divided into machine stitched (or machine-sewn) soccer ball (represented by China), and hand stitched (or hand-sewn) soccer ball (represented by Pakistan), and the laminated soccer ball (or thermal bonded soccer ball), as well as some rubber soccer ball (represented by China).
Different soccer balls use different cover.
Generally speaking, there are below different outer covers:
Genuine Leather, and artificial leather,
PVC, TPU, PU, microfiber, and so on, you must be familiar with some of them.
And yes, these materials are artificial leather.
Today we will not explain in detail.
But this will be explained in details in the near future in another blog.
Correspondingly, the bladders of the soccer ball can be divided into: rubber bladder, Nylon-wounded bladder, cloth-wrapped bladder, and cotton-stuffed bladder.
Chapter #2: Soccer Ball Production Process
Here we come to the specific production process of soccer ball:
We can roughly divide the production process of soccer ball into the following stages:
#1, Preparation Stage
#2, Printing Stage
#3, Sewing Stage
#4, Testing Stage
There are a lot of details to pay attention to at each stage, let’s look at it together.
1, Preparation Stage
As the name suggests, we need to carefully prepare the soccer ball to be produced.
From the moment we get the order, we must know clearly how to produce these soccer balls.
How many leathers do we need, how many bladders do we need,
The number of pieces is 6, 12, 20, 26, 30, 32. Generally speaking, the more pieces, the better roundness, if based on the same material,
32 pieces soccer balls have the perfect roundness whether with hard material or soft material.
Conversely, if you are choosing a less pieces, for example, you like the shape of 6 panels, then we recommend to use softer leather to produce to guarantee the roundness. Produced with PVC material which is harder than TPU or PU, will appear a bit less round, which will affect the user experience.
Production of leather:
It’s better to use the newly-made materials to produce soccer balls, because the very old leather materials may have product flaws, which may be accompanied by the risk of substandard products, such as Delamination, insufficient ink adhesion, matte surface, etc.
So this is why we often give customers feedback that can you add more quantity to get new materials ordered?
Classification of leather:
Leather is roughly divided into two categories: leather and artificial leather.
The ball used to be made only of leather in earlier times.
Leather gives a longer life and a more beautiful finish,
But leather also absorbs water and makes the ball heavy.
Corresponding to this is artificial leather, such as PVC, TPU, PU, etc., which are well known to us, artificial leather on the other hand does not allow too much water to be absorbed.
The application of artificial leather is only a small part in the field of soccer ball.
Part of the artificial leather is used in all aspects of life such as furniture, clothes, carpets, etc.
Material quality inspection:
If the materials used are not good, everything is gone.
After finishing the materials, the first thing is to have the materials inspected.
There are many reference indicators：
To test the thickness of the leather
To match the color with the Pantone Card
And the most important thing is to check whether the leather is delaminated.
Once the leather is delaminated, it is very easily to be destroyed when kicking.
This will be a quality issue.
The other thing is to clean the materials before printing:
Prior to printing, the materials must be cleaned with alcohol and other high-efficiency cleaners to avoid printing defects.
Because if the leather is not clean and with some dust on the surface, the ink will be printed on the dust, not the leather instead.
And eventually some printing defects will be formed, this is terrible for logo printing.
Soccer balls are made up of many pentagon and hexagon pieces.
So we have to cut the materials into different pentagons and hexgons.
This is cutting.
2, Printing Stage:
After placing the panels correctly on the printing table, the panels are ready to be printed.
Generally, different silk printing screens are made according to the different colors and shapes, that means, if there are 10 colors in your artwork, then we have to make 10 different screens, if there are 10 different shapes, we have to make another 10 screens.
When printing, the ink will leak to the leather through the small holes on the silk printing screens. Thus color appears.
It should be noted that nowadays it is generally divided into treadmill printing and Desktop printing.
The difference between them are:
The treadmill printing, worker and silk printing screen moves, but the panels hold still.
The desktop printing is exactly the opposite: the panels move, but workers and printing screens hold still.
Generally speaking, treadmill printing will be more efficient and faster.
The Desktop printing will be a little bit slower, and it’s not good for printing, because the printed panel should be moved immediately from the printing area, and a new blank panel should be placed correctly and be printed immediately, one after another.
There may be risks, because the ink is still wet, not dry at the very moment when it has to be moved away from the printing area.
I can’t imagine what will happen to the logo printing.
There also bad things on treadmill printings:
It is a must to wait for the ink to completely dry before printing the second color, generally we will use electric fan to make it faster.
In the hot and humid days, or in the cold winter, the ink is very difficult to dry, it always talks a lot of time for printing.
But now, there are many big dryers to speed up this process which makes it much faster.
Printing quality inspection:
Generally speaking, if we did a great job on cleaning the dust on the panels before the printing, basically there will be no problem in the printing process.
But anything unexpected could happen.
So just in case, it is still necessary to do the inspection on the printed panels.
Generally we use the tape to test the ink adhesion, to see whether the ink is firmly printed on the panel, and whether there is printing issues, whether there are some defective places due to unknown reasons, such as missing printing, misprinting and so on.
Pick out all the unqualified panels and destroy them.
3, Stitching Stage
The sewing can be divided into 3 parts.
Our native call is hat-sewn, waist-sewn and mouth-sewn.
The hat refers to this part on the artwork, you can download a standard design draft here in our website www.ifansports.com.
A ball should have two hats, one on each side, a total of 12 panels, 2 pentagons, and 10 hexagons.
The ball also has a waist, which is this part on the artwork, a total of 20 pieces, consisting of 10 hexagons and 10 pentagons.
When finishing the two hats and one waist, it is necessary to stitch the three parts into one, leaving a small mouth for putting the bladders inside.
Before stitching the bladder inside the soccer balls, we will conduct a quality inspection on the bladders.
First, weigh the bladders. The proper weight is a must to guarantee the quality.
Lighter will be not strong enough, heavier will affect the user experiences, both of them are not allowed.
Putting the bladder inside the ball:
Only the qualified bladders could be put inside of the soccer ball.
We will get some glue to the bladder mouth, and then load the bladder inside the outer cover.
There is only one panel with a preset hold among 32 panels.
This hole (which we called valve) plays a very important role to connect the ball and bladder.
Here again, there is visible valve and hidden valve.
If you can see the valve very easily from the outside of the ball, then this is called a visible valve.
If you can NOT see the valve from the outside of the ball, it is called the hidden valve.
Both the visible and hidden valve have their own advantages and disadvantages.
For visible valve, it’s more easily to inflate the ball, generally you can find the valve easily and inflate them easily.
For hidden valve, it looks more expensive, high-grade feelings. But it’s not as easy as visible valves, that’s why most of soccer balls are with visible value, a soccer ball has to be a inflated soccer ball first.
After the bladder is installed, it will be placed into the oven, and the special glue of the bladder and the outer cover will be baked to form a very solid and inseparable soccer ball.
After the bladder is correctly installed, the next step is to close the mouth.
The remaining part of the hat and waist will be stitched together to form a complete soccer ball.
At this point, a complete soccer ball is finished.
4, Testing Stage
Each ball in every single order will be produced according to above steps.
When all the balls are done, it’s not the end.
There are many more important things to follow:
- To check whether the total number of order is enough or not? It’s OK to produce more than wanted, but NO shortage allowed.
- To check if the carton is suitable or not, is it big or small?
- Is there any printing dislocation? What’s the %, is that acceptable?
- Is the printing colors different from the wanted ones?
- Is the printing adhesion OK?
- Is the weight of the ball within the customer’s requirements?
- Is the size of the circumference appropriate? How about in the specified air pressure?
- Is the stitching too dense or too sparse? Is it uniform? Can it be improved?
- Does any soccer ball leak air? Remove them all!
- Is it packed correctly according to customers request?
- and so on.
At this point, it is also necessary to clean the soccer ball to ensure that the customer is happy when receiving the balls.
This is a complete football production process from the perspective of a football supplier.