World Snooker uses Tournament Champion snooker balls from Saluc for all professional events. We looked into what makes the Aramith brand the best.
Saluc is a Belgian company, based in Callenelle, a small village in the Walloon region, not far from Mons. It was founded in 1923 as a chemical industry, specialising in tannery products. In 1950, it switched to making billiard balls and now, under the registered trademark Aramith, exports to more than 85 countries, with a remarkable market share of 80%.
Snooker balls were once made of ivory, but in a move welcomed by elephants, manufacturers switched to crystalate before the Second World War. After 1950, Saluc found the tanning industry on the decline, but noticed that the billiard trade was on the up. The company made the ingenious decision to switch to making billiard balls out of phenolic resin; which they already had the chemical plant and expertise to produce.
At first, there was competition from three other firms, but through the continuous fine-tuning of quality and the increase of production levels, Saluc succeeded to take a major competitive lead. Today, Saluc is the only company worldwide producing phenolic billiard balls.
The manufacturing process follows a 13-step process and lasts 23 days, using only materials produced in Saluc’s own plant. The process includes includes casting and curing, as well as unique grinding and polishing technology. Throughout the process, computerised technology continuously interfaces with and assists craftsmanship to guarantee the tightest tolerances and specifications. This leads to a product which is perfectly round and balanced with uniform weight and hardness, brilliant colours and friction-resistant roll and reaction.
Each ball is checked manually before leaving the factory and continuing its journey to locations worldwide – including tournaments on the World Snooker Tour. The end product is simply the best snooker ball money can buy.
The balls produced at Saluc’s plant have unmatchable chip- and scratch-resistance, lasting up to five times longer than other balls made of polyester. Tests showed that they are still perfectly playable after 400,000 hits – that’s roughly the length of a safety battle between Steve Davis and Dave Harold. The balls are so strong that it would need a five-ton weight on top to break them.
Hitting a cue ball accelerates it to 20 mph in just a fraction of a second. The resulting friction temperature between ball and cloth can easily reach 250°C . The molecular structure of the phenolic resin is engineered to be wear resistant at these high temperatures, making Aramith balls far less vulnerable to abrasive burn-spots.
“There is simply no comparison,” said Vito Leo, PhD in material science and solid state physics and associated professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, who performed independent tests on a specifically designed billiard table simulator. “When all kinds of polyester balls found on the market are tested, including DAP-based and other types, both the cloth and the balls are greatly damaged after some times—some even destroyed—whereas the Aramith balls, along with the cloth used, show an exceptional shape even after extensive longevity tests.”
So, now you can see that what makes Saluc the best is not just a load of balls.
For more information see www.saluc.com
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