Production of a Basketball


In the construction of a basketball, all balls contain a bladder with an inflation valve, a carcass, and a cover material. The following lists the procedure in producing a basketball:

  1. Sheets of butyl rubber are cut into shapes, and bonded together with an inflation valve in a mold under high temperature and pressure. Butyl rubber is used instead of other rubber materials because of its superior ability to hold air.
  2. The inflated bladder is coated with a heat-curing adhesive and wound with a nylon or polyester thread like a ball of string. Nylon is more durable, yet more expensive, material than polyester. Generally, a "nylon wound" basketball is a better quality basketball than one which is "nylon/polyester wound" or "polyester wound."
  3. In forming the carcass, two bowl-like pieces -- called "half shells" -- of partially-cured natural rubber are molded. These half shells are placed over each half of the wound bladder, placed in a hot mold, and cured under pressure. For a rubber basketball, a special mold with a textured surface forms the pebbles in the rubber during the molding operation. This operation produces the finished rubber basketball. For leather and synthetic leather balls, the finished carcass is black, round, and smooth except for raised ridges for the channels.
  4. For leather and synthetic leather basketballs, pieces of material -- called panels -- are die cut. The panels are shaved down in thickness in an operation called "splitting," which brings the material in at the proper weight for game play. After splitting, the edge of the panels are tapered in a shaving operation called "skiving", so that the panels lay down next to the channel and provide a place for gripping the ball. Finally, the panels are hot stamped with the desired logos.
  5. For leather and synthetic leather basketballs, adhesive is applied to the carcass and the back of the skived panels. The panels are then applied by hand -- eight panels in all. The assembled ball is then put into a mold and inflated to 80-100 lb. of pressure for a short period of time, then the air pressure is reduced to the specified pressure of 7-9 lb. This operation -- called "molding" -- presses all of the parts together to provide a tight bond.


Learn More about the process of manufacturing rubber basketballs.