The Difference Between Leather and Synthetic Footballs
To determine whether the friction between leather and synthetic footballs varies, scientists used scanning electron microscopy to study the differences between the two surfaces. The surface of natural animal hide is embossed with raised features to improve friction. This design increases the surface area and makes the football easier to catch. In contrast, the surface of synthetic materials lacks the microscopic fibrous structure found in leather. The researchers also tested the friction between dry and wet footballs using a conventional friction measurement method.
Footballs are more complex than their medieval ancestors. Most footballs now contain twelve to twenty hexagonal panels that are arranged in a truncated icosahedron spherical geometry. Some premium-grade footballs have as many as 32 panels and use non-regular polygons. In addition, the football is inflated by a latex or butyl rubber bladder. The football is also covered with polyurethane or PVC panels that can be embossed or textured. These panels are machine stitched or thermo-bonded to the football body.