What are Billiard Balls Made of?

This article from SportsAspire will provide you with facts about the size and weight of a billiard ball. We shall also tell you how and what are they made of!
SportsAspire Staff
Billiards Vs. Pool Vs. Snooker
  • Billiards: Played with 3 balls and a cue on a table without pockets
  • Pool: Played with 4 to 16 balls and a cue on a table that has 6 pockets
  • Snooker: Played with a cue and 22 balls on a table that has 6 pockets which are smaller than pool pockets

Traditionally, billiards is played with three balls and narrow sticks (or cues) on a special table. A minimum of two players are required to play this game, where the players are supposed to hit the balls with the cue into the pockets, with an objective to score more than the opponent. The sides of the table are bound in cushions, and it does not consist of any pockets. Therefore, the player can hit a ball and bounce it off the sides, in order to hit another ball on the rebound.
The balls used for playing cue sports like carom billiards, pool, and snooker are known as billiard balls. The term 'billiard balls' is often interchangeably used as 'pool balls'. Although the number, diameter, and color of these balls differ with every game, the material used in making these balls is the same.
Doesn't this sound interesting? But have you ever wondered what billiard balls are made of? SportsAspire will provide you with the detailed information about the making and size and of these balls. But let us take a quick glance at the history and evolution of this ball.
Evolution of the Billiard Balls
◆ It was the Duke of Norfolk who first invented ivory billiard balls in 1588. These were made of elephant tusks.

◆ These balls, made out of ivory, were expensive and were meant for affluent players only. They remained in use from the 16th century till the 1970s.

◆ Billiard balls, during these times, were also available in wood and cement. It was a real task to carve balls out of wood, also these wooden balls used to become swollen. The cement ones had a tendency to crack open when they were hit hard.

◆ By the mid-19th century, billiards equipment manufacturers started looking for alternatives to ivory, due to growing concerns about the ivory trade. Also, these balls easily reacted to the variations in temperature and humidity, and swelled and cracked easily.

◆ In 1868, American inventor John Hyatt invented the composition balls, which were made of pulp, gum, and shellac. By 1869, he came up with new billiard balls, which were made of nitrocellulose, and named them "celluloid".

◆ Noted American chemist Leo Baekeland, in the early 1900s, came up with the first artificial plastic billiard balls. This plastic was obtained after polymerizing phenol and formaldehyde, and the resulting phenolic resin was known as "Bakelite".

◆ Thereafter, by the end of World War II, Saluc, a Belgian specialty manufacturer started producing phenolic resin billiard balls. Today, they manufacture around 80% of the world's billiard balls used today.
How are Billiard Balls Made
◆ The resin types which are widely used in making billiard balls are phenolic and polyester. These are not only chip- and scratch-resistant, but also retain their shiny polish.

◆ When the resin is in the liquid form, it is heated and poured into flexible latex molds. But most of the time, to ensure that there is no air bubble in the billiard ball, the liquid latex is injected into the mold.

◆ According to the desired shape, these balls are cast in a vacuum chamber. There are a variety of dies which either mold one ball at a time or a batch, which are then polished and smoothened by machines.

◆ These phenolic resin balls are designed in such a way, that they are strong enough to resist and absorb about 50 times the impact of other balls.
Dimensions and Weight
The diameter of carom billiard balls is between 61 to 61.5 mm, and weigh between 205 to 220 g. Whereas, pool balls, also known as billiard balls, have a diameter of 57.15 mm, and weight between 156 to 170 g. The diameter of snooker balls is 52.5 mm, and though no standard weight has been set, all balls must weigh equally within a tolerance of 3 g.


So who knew that there was so much behind these shiny little balls? Now that you know what these are made of, we hope that you are no longer eager to break open and see what is inside the billiard balls.
Hand Supporting A Stick As It Shoots
Man playing billiard
Snooker Cue Chalk And Hands
Two Balls On Snooker Table
Pool Table With Balls
Snooker Shot
Red Ball Going In Billiard Pocket
Ball And Snooker Player
Ball And Snooker Player
Group Of Colorful Snooker Balls
Cue Chalk And Snooker Ball On Table