Breathing new life into old balls

A University of Bath student has developed a new device which ‘pumps air’ into tennis balls to extend their useful life.

Aimée Cubitt, a final year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Bath, has developed a new device which ‘pumps air’ into tennis balls to extend their useful life and restores their bounce.

This is useful because tennis balls start to lose their bounce as soon as they are removed from their container as the pressurised air within their rubber core starts to seep out.

But there is currently no way for amateur players to reinvigorate their balls once they have gone flat, resulting in thousands of balls being thrown away each year and many amateur players using below-regulation balls.

As part of her final year project on the Innovation & Engineering Design course at the University of Bath, Aimée discovered that storing tennis balls in a pressurised container can help slow down pressure loss and even reverse it.

Her invention, which she has called ‘Pump‘n’Bounce’, incorporates a hand-operated pump with a tennis ball canister, allowing players to pressurise the container they store their tennis balls in.

“It is a fairly simple idea really, but the tests have shown that you can quite literally breathe new life into tennis balls by putting them under pressure,” said Aimée, who graduates in July.

“Pump‘n’Bounce is a small device which will allow amateur tennis players to get the most out of their tennis balls. The tennis players I have surveyed are really keen to get their hands on the product,” she added.

“It should be possible to manufacture and sell Pump’n’Bounce for about £15, and players will be able to recoup their costs fairly quickly, as initial tests have shown that it is possible to double if not treble the lifetime of a tennis ball using this kind of system.”

“Tennis ball manufacturers could sell their tennis balls with a Pump‘n’Bounce canister which would help add value to the product they are selling and extend its lifetime for the benefit of their customers,” concluded Aimée, who is keen to hear from potential commercial partners interested in helping develop the product.