How Table Tennis Balls are Made

  • Date: January 24, 2023
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Table tennis is a popular sport around the world, and the colorful table tennis balls used in the game are essential to playing it properly. But how are these balls made?

Table tennis balls are generally made from celluloid, a kind of plastic. The first step in the manufacturing process is to create a mold that will be used to make each individual ball. This mold is made up of two halves and is heated until it becomes pliable.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the process behind making table tennis balls and learn about the materials and technology used to make them. Let’s get started!

What type of balls are used in tournaments

The balls are an important part of the table tennis equipment and, in tournaments and competitions, the balls used must meet the regulations set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). The ITTF specifies that the balls used must be made of celluloid, be 40mm in diameter, weigh 2.7 grams, and have a bounce of between 23cm and 25cm when dropped from a height of 30cm.

Celluloid balls are made from cellulose nitrate, which is a type of plastic derived from cellulose, and are preferred for their roundness, consistency, and speed of play.

The ITTF also specifies that the balls must be white or orange, and that they must be used in sets of six or more. The balls used in table tennis tournaments and competitions must also be approved by the ITTF, and they must bear the ITTF logo to indicate that they meet the federation’s regulations.

It’s worth noting that there are other types of balls used in table tennis, such as plastic balls, but they are not used in tournaments and competitions, because they are not approved by ITTF and they have different characteristics that make them less suitable for high-level play.

How Table Tennis Balls are Made

Table tennis balls are typically made from celluloid, a type of plastic that is derived from cellulose. The process of making table tennis balls involves several steps:

  1. Mixing: Celluloid powder is mixed with a solvent, such as camphor, to create a paste. Pigments are added to create the desired color of the ball, typically white or orange.
  2. Molding: The paste is then molded into small spheres using a machine. The spheres are then placed in a drying chamber to remove any remaining solvent.
  3. Polishing: Once dry, the balls are polished to smooth out any imperfections and to give them a glossy finish.
  4. Testing: The balls are then tested to ensure that they meet the specifications set by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) such as weight, diameter, bounce, and roundness.
  5. Packaging: Once they pass the test, the balls are packaged in sets of six or more, and they bear the ITTF logo indicating that they meet the federation’s regulations.

It is worth noting that the process of making plastic balls is different, they are made by a different type of plastic and with a different process, however, the celluloid balls are the standard for high-level play and tournaments.

Plastic table tennis balls are made using a different process than celluloid balls. The process of making plastic balls is a bit more complex and involves several steps:

  1. Raw Materials: The raw materials used to make plastic balls include polyethylene, pigments, and additives. The polyethylene is melted and mixed with pigments and other additives to create the desired color and properties of the ball.
  2. Injection Molding: The melted mixture is then injected into a mold, which is shaped like a ping pong ball. The mold is cooled and the plastic ball is formed.
  3. Quality Control: The balls are then inspected for any defects or inconsistencies, such as uneven size, irregular shape, or discoloration. Any balls that do not meet the standards are rejected.
  4. Finishing: The balls are then polished and buffed to give them a smooth surface.
  5. Packaging: The balls are then packaged in sets of six or more and they are ready for sale.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Plastic Balls 

In table tennis, plastic balls have some advantages and disadvantages compared to celluloid balls, which are the standard type of ball used in tournaments and competitions.

Advantages of Plastic Balls:

  • Durability: Plastic balls are more durable than celluloid balls and do not crack or deform as easily. This means that they can last longer and save money in the long run.
  • Consistency: Plastic balls tend to have more consistent bounce and flight characteristics than celluloid balls, which can make the game more predictable and consistent.
  • Safety: Plastic balls are less flammable than celluloid balls, which makes them safer to use in environments where there is a risk of fire.
  • Cost-effective: Plastic balls are less expensive than celluloid balls, which can be a significant advantage for recreational players or clubs.

Disadvantages of Plastic Balls:

  • Slower: Plastic balls are slower than celluloid balls, which can make the game less dynamic and less exciting.
  • Reduced spin: Plastic balls do not have the same level of spin as celluloid balls, which can make the game less tactical and less challenging for advanced players.
  • Not approved by ITTF: Plastic balls are not approved by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) for use in tournaments and competitions, which means that players who want to compete at a high level will need to use celluloid balls.
  • Feel: Plastic balls do not have the same feel as celluloid balls and can be less satisfying to play with, especially for experienced players.

The difference between orange and white ping pong balls

White balls are the most commonly used color in table tennis, they are used in the majority of tournaments, competitions and recreational games. They are preferred by most players because they are easy to see and track, which makes the game more dynamic and exciting.

Orange balls, on the other hand, are preferred by some players because they are easier to see against dark backgrounds. Orange balls are also used in some tournaments and competitions, but not as common as white balls, as a way to make the game more visible to television and live audiences.

In terms of playability, both white and orange balls are similar, they have the same weight, diameter, and bounce, and have the same roundness and consistency, so it doesn’t affect the game itself.

Which ping pong balls are the best

Premium ping-pong balls are composed of ABS plastic and are 40 mm in diameter and labeled as equipped with the three star rating. These balls qualify for the Olympics because they are heavy enough for competition, they are even in roundness, and the softness is perfect.


In conclusion, ping pong balls are an important part of the game of table tennis, and it’s important to choose the right type for your needs. Plastic ping pong balls have some advantages and disadvantages compared to celluloid balls, but their cost-effectiveness and durability can be beneficial.

White ping pong balls are most commonly used in tournaments, whereas orange ones are preferred by some players when playing against dark backgrounds. Ultimately, premium ABS plastic balls that have a three star rating tend to be the best choice for competitive tournaments. Regardless of which type you choose though, make sure that they have consistent roundness and softness so that your game is up to par!