A tennis ball is just a tennis ball - right? Well yes it is, fine if you just intend to play "fetch" with the dog, but if you want to play in a tennis competition then the ball has to be type-approved by the International Tennis Federation, the ITF. Ball manufacturers have to submit samples of their balls to the ITF for testing, and there are a surprising number of different balls available from large, foam balls for beginners to high altitude balls for use when you are playing at more than 1219 metres (4000 feet) above sea-level.
As you can imagine with lots of different ball types and many different manufacturers wanting to get type-approval, the ITF need to test an awful lot of tennis balls. Having had a previous machine built by Mecmesin several years ago, the ITF specified a new automated ball testing machine so they could cope with the demand for type-approval testing for the expanding range including the slower balls used by small children and beginners.The new tester can be set going then left unattended to:
- Pick up a ball from the carousel;
- Measure the diameter of the ball;
- Place it on the test platform where it is compressed to measure forward and return deformation;
- Rotate the ball so measurements can be made on each of three perpendicular axes:
- Transfer the ball to a precision balance and weigh it;
- Put the ball back on the carousel;
- Make all the calculations needed and print out a report;
The automated placement of the ball is more accurate and therefore more reproducible than can be achieved by hand, and means the ITF technicians are free to perform other tasks - maybe even take the dog for a walk...
Take a look at the video at: