Ping pong balls are not just hatched from larger, ping pong ball-shaped eggs. They’re built at Double Happiness in Shanghai, China. The International Table Tennis Federation decided to shed some light on the whole situation in this video.
Before getting shaped, all materials and weighed to make sure they’re the same. Balls are cut by machine, with hot water dripping onto them to avoid cracks. Ball halves are then transferred by hand into gluing stations, with solvent spread evenly on each half.
Double Happiness may not be Apple in terms of secrecy, but the company does keep a few things to itself. It wouldn’t let the ITTF look at how they get the balls perfectly round. The change in material has allowed for the company to radically lower the amount of time needed for the balls to settle, cutting it down from 60 days to 15.
Competition balls have to undergo hand-testing. This requires a close examination of the ball’s surface, their veer (measuring how they deviate from a pre-ordained path in a controlled fall their hardness and weight, and perhaps most crucially, their roundness.
All that to build perfect cannon fodder.
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.