Bayer MaterialScience sets the ball rolling
King Soccer will again rule over the stadiums and living rooms during the European Championship in June. This year’s secret star of the green pitch is the “EUROPASS”. With its PSC-Texture™ surface structure, the new match ball of Bayer materials combines outstanding flight characteristics with greater power transmission and control. The result: better ball feel. René Adler, the keeper from Bayer 04 Leverkusen is a fan: “The nub-like structure gives the ball significantly more grip, making it easier to catch.” Whether a finesse dribbler, a cool strategist or a steely-nerved keeper – everyone can now control the ball better and keep the fans on the edge of their seats.
The basis for the new ball’s top form is the synthetic leather coating of Impranil®. The high-performance material from Bayer MaterialScience is used on the top five layers of the ball. The brand enjoys a 50-year tradition of synthetic leather production and stands for the ultimate in innovative textile coatings.
Innovative ball surface with nubbed texture
Explains Thomas Michaelis, Project Manager for Ball Development at Bayer MaterialScience: “What makes the EUROPASS so special is the change to the exterior structure – the PSC-Texture™. Nubs resembling goose bumps on the surface layer give the ball more power and swerve. The larger surface of attack and contact surface allow the players to control the ball more precisely in all types of weather.”
The three letters “PSC” stand for Power-Swerve-Control, which means optimized power transmission, more spin and greater precision. Like its predecessor, the “+Teamgeist™,” the EUROPASS has 14 panels in the shapes of tongues and propellers and only 24 junction points when assembled. This provides better flight characteristics. The ball is constructed using patented Thermal Bonding Technology and thus absorbs essentially no moisture. A raw material from Bayer MaterialScience is also used here too; the heat-activated adhesive is based on a waterborne polyurethane dispersion from the Dispercoll® U product line.
Proven PU plastic: Impranil®
The plastic polyurethane (PU) and Impranil® brand PU-based textile coating products celebrating their 50th birthday this year are a milestone in the history of the development of soccer ball coatings. Impranil® is a preferred plastic for the coating of textiles. Thanks to its outstanding properties, the Bayer product also quickly took the lead when it came to ball innovations. Impranil® is used in multiple layers: A syntactic foam of the material is partly responsible for the precise trajectory of the ball. The foam lies on an adhesion coat holding together the outer skin and the textile substrate. The foam is made up of millions of microcells. On top of the foam are an aliphatic intermediate and topcoat and a final skin. These protect the ball from outside influences, prevent abrasion and impart elasticity.
Team spirit the recipe for success
The new model was developed by Bayer MaterialScience and adidas. The two companies have collaborated since the 1986 World Championship in Mexico to continuously improve the soccer ball. The materials experts in Leverkusen and the engineers in Herzogenaurach have a clearly defined goal: to create an ideal spherical shape and to perfect the ball. The sporting goods manufacturer provides the ideas; Bayer MaterialScience the products for the first prototypes, which are studied in the adidas laboratory. This is followed by field studies using small production runs for real-world testing of the new developments.
Even the name EUROPASS is significant. It symbolizes the common “Euro” pass between the two host countries of Austria and Switzerland as well as the passes made on the pitch. The Bundesliga clubs Leverkusen, Nuremberg and Schalke used the new ball during the second half of the season just concluded.