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Celuloid - czemu zapomniano ?


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Trochę światła na sprawę celuloidu rzuca problem z jakim zetknęli się fani tenisa stołowego :blink: Jeden z forumowiczów http://www.tabletennisdaily.co.uk męczył ITTF w związku ze stosowaniem celuloidu do produkcji piłeczek pingpongowych. Przeczytajcie sami:

Dear Mr. Sharara,

Recently you've received an e-mail from Tassie52 of the OOAK forum concerning a couple of issues about the old celluloid and the new poly ball (i.e. the new plastic ball). You've given him some clear answer about those issues, but it is stated for quite a while now at the forum that there is no evidence about a coming "worldwide ban of celluloid". Concerning this coming "worldwide ban of celluloid" I have four questions for you:

(1) Is the introduction of the new poly ball solely based on the coming "worldwide ban of celluloid"?

(2) If not, what are the other reasons why the ITTF has chosen to proceed with a non-celluloid ball?

(3) Can you give, to tackle the discussion about the truth value about the coming "worldwide ban of celluloid" once and for all, prove about this coming "worldwide ban of celluloid" (e.g. web links, scientific articles, written document,...)? Please add them to your reply.

(4) If I'm correctly informed, you were a defender in your younger days. What do you think will be the effect of the new ball on playing styles like modern defense (e.g. executed by Joo Se Hyuk)? I know this is a subjective question, but I'm quite curious how you see this as a (former) defender.

Looking forward to your informative responses.

Thanks in advance.

Yours Sincerely,

Lorenzo Goossens

asa Lorre (OOAK forum)

Belgium

Reply

This message is posted on behalf of Mr. Adham Sharara.

Hi Lorenzo,

There is no upcoming world-wide ban of celluloid, this was a simplification of the current status and the status on the use of celluloid for many years past. Their is also no health issue with the finished product. The issue is in the manufacturing of the celluloid sheets that are used to make the ping pong balls. These sheets are produced from raw celluloid, which is a highly fibrous and flammable material. It is banned on commercial flights for many years now, this is nothing new. The use of the celluloid in producing products (ping pong balls, motion picture film, etc.) has become virtually extinct due to the very high health hazard to the workers using these materials. It is the same case for Asbestos. These are materials with very thin and minute fibres that are inhaled and stick to the lungs causing, as you can imagine, lung disease. In some western countries there is an outright ban on the use of asbestos or celluloid at the raw material level for many years now. There is no ban for the use of the finished product. This is quite hypocritical if you ask me "We do not want to hurt our people, but let others get hurt". The so-called "others" are waking up and realizing that such materials are harmful for their workers and have started to impose restrictions in production in form of a gradual decrease in the production for a steady reduction and eventual stoppage of production all together. Other governments have imposed very strict regulations for the factories that have celluloid production at the raw level. Some of these restrictions are very expensive, so manufacturers find it cheaper, and healthier, to change the material and use composites or plastics that are less hazardous or hopefully safe to use by the workers. The film industry as you probably know is going digital more and more every day.

For table tennis balls (ping pong) balls, the manufacturers have become almost extinct. There are basically 2 in China that produce good quality ping pong balls, 1 in Japan, and 1 in Korea. There was also one in Eastern Europe but it closed several years ago. I personally started to warn manufacturers more than 6 years ago, that the use of raw celluloid will be more and more regulated, as this was the trend in all other countries. This was taken seriously by Japan, and their solution was to buy balls made in China, same as the European companies have been doing for more than 20 years since the production of raw celluloid in their own countries was no longer viable. As you know, China was admitted to the WTO a couple of years ago and hence must abide by the WTO's standards and regulations. The celluloid production factories have been given a period of time to reduce their production, and the manufacturers that rely on the finished celluloid product are of course very concerned that they will no longer be able to produce their products in a few years time. This is when the two largest ping pong ball factories in the world (in China) woke up and started looking at other technologies to produce ping pong balls with other non-hazardous materials. The result is what we refer to today as the POLY balls.

Since a completely new technology was being invented for the new balls, I asked the manufacturers to seize this opportunity and produce better quality balls: seamless, round, even hardness, etc. This is hopefully what will happen. We will transform what could have been a crisis of having a shortage of ping pong balls, hence rendering them very expensive and probably extinct, to a positive result of better quality balls for all to enjoy. A by-product of this change is that POLY balls could be produced everywhere and not just in Chia. This may help make them more competitive and affect the price positively (cheaper) after a while.

I would like to stress that plastic balls have been in our regulations for more than 50 years, indeed Dunlop and Halex in England used to produce plastic balls, with an old technology, when they stopped producing raw celluloid in the UK at that time. So, as far as regulations are concerned there is no change, POLY balls are legal and always were. What would need a regulation change in a couple of years is the removal of the legality of using celluloid balls at ITTF events. However, we must give enough time to the manufacturers and resellers to deplete their stocks.

To answer your questions below, for (1), (2) and (3), perhaps I was misunderstood. The ban on celluloid production (also Asbestos) varies from country to country and started more than 30 years ago in some countries. The only countries left to produce raw celluloid used for the manufacturing of ping pong balls can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Already Japan is on a declining quota, and as of last year China is also on a declining quota. I am not sure about Korea. So, if we wait until these countries also stop the production of raw celluloid, then we would be in trouble. This is why we are pro-active and have pushed for a solution which remains within our rules and that was available to us all along. There are no other reasons for changing to POLY balls.

Regarding your question (4), yes, I am extremely concerned with the direction our sport has taken that has made the defensive player almost extinct. I really admire someone like Joo Se Hyuk who has persevered in the onslaught of attacking players. Players are asking for spinier and faster equipment all the time. This is always to the disadvantage of the defensive player. Faster blades, faster and thicker sponge, tackier rubber, etc., is all very bad for the defensive player. But that is the natural trend that the sport has taken. This is true in most sports.

I am not sure how the new ball will affect modern defensive players. Personally I thought that the increase from 38mm to 40 mm would help the defensive player, and it should. But most coaches and most defensive players were not able to figure out how to change and modify their techniques to take advantage of the new larger ball. They played the same way and found it more difficult to vary the spin and more difficult to attack from far. It took them a long time to adjust. This is why I admire Joo Se Hyuk, he is a classic defender (not how I imagined the evolution of a defender) and yet he remains in the top 10 in the World. Really amazing.

Regarding the new ball, the reports we have from the players that tried them is that it is more bouncy and less spiny. What does this mean for the defensive player? I don't know. Hopefully good news.

Please feel free to post this response to the Forum.

Lorenzo, I answered this e-mail exceptionally because of your genuine concern, however, you must understand that I receive more than 300 e-mails daily on my ITTF e-mail account and would find it difficult to engage in an exchange of e-mails. This is why I recommend that you post this response for others to see.

Thank you for understanding.

Adham Sharara

ITTF

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