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Compression Testing of Tennis Balls

Automatic pick, place and testing of tennis balls ensures consistent product quality


The ITF (International Tennis Federation) invited Mecmesin to bid for a project to replace their outdated ‘Stevens’ test machine used to measure the force to ‘squash’ a tennis ball. The specification was developed in consultation with the ITF to provide a fully-automated, pneumatic pick-and-place machine. Each ball was required to be exercised or ‘scragged’ to a certain length before being ready to test.

Robotic ball picker and alignment arm places the sample consistently onto the compression fixture


Each test consisted of touching on the ball and subsequently compressing by a set distance and recording the force at that point. The ball was then rotated through 90° by the pneumatic grips. The test was repeated on the ball until it had been tested on all three poles. The ball was then automatically returned to the carousel, ready for the next ball to be loaded. The PCM software was used to create a step-by-step compression test programe. Mecmesin’s engineers worked with a specialist company, SMC Pneumatics in developing the pneumatic controls.
A system from SMC was interfaced with the PCM tension/compression software to provide the control of the pneumatic grips and carousel at exactly the right moment during the test routine. Upon completion of the test, the PCM software provided Pass/Fail analysis of results and a simple statistical report. This test specification is now officially designated as ITF Test Method TB03/02.



Read the press release here.


“Mecmesin was our first choice when we decided to upgrade our tennis ball testing system. They provided a bespoke service: meeting our specific requirements and providing a fully-integrated solution. We value their understanding of our business, attention to detail and prompt support..”

Jamie Capel-Davies, Manager - Science and Technical
ITF, International Tennis Federation