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Table Tennis: Effect of Humidity on Racket Rubber Tribology


In contrast to a flourishing development of racket rubber coverings, or rubbers, no technical data can be found on their performance under different environmental conditions. In light of this, here we report an experimental study on the frictional response of four different popular rubbers, with pimples-in and pimples-out gometry, tested against three different balls at five levels of relative humidity. It is found that the humidity does affect the frictional characteristics of the rubbers, with all parameters being responsive to changes in the environmental conditions and reaching maximum at the humidity of about 45–60% in a majority of the cases. Probably the most interesting finding is that the ball surface finish has significant effect on the frictional response of all rubbers. This can provide players with the ability to affect the rubber performance at different levels of humidity by simply choosing between different balls.

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We thank Yuichi Tsuchiya (Tamasu Co., Japan) for providing the racket coverings and balls used in this study. This work was funded by the Georgia Institute of Technology.

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Correspondence to M. Varenberg.

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Wu, Y., Varenberg, A. & Varenberg, M. Table Tennis: Effect of Humidity on Racket Rubber Tribology. Tribol Lett 69, 31 (2021).

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  • Ping pong
  • Racket covering
  • Friction
  • Stickiness
  • Grip