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Solitary Waves to Assess the Internal Pressure and the Rubber Degradation of Tennis Balls

  • A. Nasrollahi
  • R. Lucht
  • P. Rizzo
Article
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Abstract

Rubber is a material present in many commodities, including tennis balls. The characteristics of tennis balls are specified by the International Tennis Federation and are evaluated using standard tests that are too cumbersome to be staged easily and quickly. In this article we present an experimental method based on the propagation of highly nonlinear solitary waves (HNSWs) to determine the internal pressure of tennis balls and to estimate rubber degradation. HNSWs are compact waves that can form and travel in a closely-packed assembly of systematically arranged particles that generally interact according to the Hertz contact law. In the study presented here, we developed a model that predicts the internal pressure of tennis balls and estimates rubber degradation by observing the waves propagating within a chain in contact with the ball to be estimated. The model was validated experimentally, by testing 18 identical balls played over a few weeks period. We found that the dynamic interaction between the waves and the rubber can successfully detect changes in internal pressure and bouncing characteristics and that these changes were barely detected using a conventional rebound test. In the future, the findings of this study may be expanded to characterize any rubber of any shape.

Keywords

Highly nonlinear solitary waves Tennis balls Rubber Internal pressure Finite element methods 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This project was supported by the University of Pittsburgh CRDF seed funding. The second author conducted this research as part of a Pittsburgh Allderdice High School research class, where high school students work on projects much like the undergraduate research experience. The mentoring effort of Dr. Janet R. Waldeck, National Board Certified Teacher, is very much appreciated. Finally, we thank Drs. Vidic and Fazzari for using the test samples and providing fruitful comments and suggestions about the serviceability of tennis balls.

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Copyright information

© Society for Experimental Mechanics 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Nondestructive Evaluation and Structural Health Monitoring Studies, Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Allderdice High-SchoolPittsburghUSA

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