With the onset of summer it’s that time of year again when the courts at SW19 spring into life. Men and women, immaculate in all white attire, battling it out to be the champion of what is considered the blue ribbon event in the tennis calendar.
Wimbledon also raises a few interesting facts. Visitors to the tournament will devour over 28,000kg of strawberries topped off with 7,000 litres of cream! The players will get through a staggering 54,250 tennis balls across the two weeks.
These are not just any balls though, in this era of elite athletes looking for marginal gains it’s imperative that they have met rigorous testing criteria. Any ball being used in a tournament must be approved by the ITF (International Tennis Federation), the world-wide governing body responsible for administering and regulating the game. Strict criteria must be met regarding mass, size, rebound height, deformation and colour.
Mecmesin Automation, a new joint venture between Mecmesin and Labman Automation, created a small tennis ball testing demo system to showcase its capabilities. It runs a simplified version of the deformation test currently performed by the ITF in Roehampton. The system incorporates a Mecmesin MultiTest 2.5-i computer controlled tensile/compression test stand. Custom automation, in this case a small cantilever ball handler, is designed and produced at Labman’s factory.
Labman’s Merlin software controls the handling of the tennis balls to and from the test stand. Once a ball is in the test position Merlin handshakes with the test stand’s Emperor software. At this point a pre-defined test operation is performed on the ball. In this case the load cell moves to a set deformation and records the force. With the test now complete Emperor handshakes with Merlin so the ball can be retrieved and the remaining samples can be tested.
Safe in the knowledge the Wimbledon balls are up to standard all that is left to say is….
Come on Andy!