What materials are footballs made out of?


Quick Answer

The main football producer, Wilson Football Factory, manufactures handmade footballs using cow hide leather. The Wilson Football Factory, which was established in 1955 in Ada, Ohio, provides footballs for the National Football League, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the American Youth Football, high school associations and many other football leagues.

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Full Answer

Wilson has been manufacturing footballs for the NFL since 1941, which was before the establishment of its main Ohio manufacturing plant. It uses a specific method to create its footballs, without the use of any machines. The first step is the cutting of the leather into four panels that make up the shape of the football. The leather is then stamped with the official NFL seal and the panels are sewn together while inside out, leaving a 2.5-inch gap. Before being turned right side out, the football is placed in a steam house for 15 to 20 seconds. After this, a bladder is inserted into the football, which makes it inflatable. Another worker adds the laces and the ball is put into a solid steel molder to give it its final shape. The ball is then inspected for a final quality check.

Each step in the production process is handled by different workers, and the entire method takes 90 minutes to complete. The bladder is usually made of polyurethane or rubber lining, and the laces are made of either leather or polyvinyl chloride. The weight of the ball is 14 to 15 ounces, and it is inflated to an air pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch before the play begins, according to the NFL rules.

The earliest form of footballs were made with materials like inflated pig bladders instead of cow leather. These balls made with pig bladder are the reason why footballs were nicknamed "pigskins."

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