What Are Billiards Balls Made Of? The Ultimate Guide

Billiards, also known as pool, is a popular game enjoyed by people of all ages. Whether you’re a casual player or a professional, understanding the materials used to make billiards balls can enhance your gameplay experience. In this ultimate guide, we’ll delve into the composition and history of billiards balls, shedding light on their construction and performance.

1. A Brief History

Since its inception in the 15th century, billiards has evolved significantly. Initially played with ivory balls made from elephant tusks, advancements in technology and concerns for animal conservation prompted manufacturers to seek alternative materials.

2. Modern-Day Materials Used

Today’s billiard balls are primarily composed of two main materials: phenolic resin and polyester (also known as acrylic or thermoset).

2.1 Phenolic Resin Balls

Phenolic resin is an incredibly durable material widely used in many industries due to its exceptional strength properties. These high-quality resin balls provide excellent break resistance while maintaining consistent playability over time.

– High Impact Resistance: Phenolic resin offers superior impact resistance compared to other materials commonly used for manufacturing billiard balls.
– Enhanced Durability: The hardness of phenolic resin ensures that the surface remains free from scratches or dents caused by repeated collisions.
– Minimal Deformation: Due to their rigidity, phenolic resin balls maintain their shape even after countless games, resulting in accurate rolls every time.

2.2 Polyester Balls

Polyester is another popular material utilized for making entry-level or recreational-grade billiard balls due to its affordability and satisfactory playing characteristics.

– Cost-effective Option: Polyester offers a more budget-friendly option for those starting out in billiards or playing on a casual basis.
– Good Playability: Although not as robust as phenolic resin balls, polyester balls still perform well and provide an enjoyable gaming experience.
– Decent Durability: While they may show signs of wear over time, polyester balls are generally resilient enough to withstand regular use.

3. Manufacturing Process

Both phenolic resin and polyester billiard balls undergo a detailed manufacturing process to ensure optimal performance and consistency.

3.1 Phenolic Resin Manufacturing

The creation of phenolic resin balls involves the following steps:

– Mixing Ingredients: A precise blend of phenol formaldehyde resins, fillers, pigments, and hardening agents is mixed together under controlled conditions.
– Compression Molding: The mixture is then compressed within a mold at high pressure and elevated temperatures to form the desired shape.
– Curing Process: Once molded, the balls undergo a curing process where they harden further through chemical reactions before being cooled down gradually for added strength.

3.2 Polyester Manufacturing

Polyester billiard ball production involves these key stages:

– Injection Molding: Liquid polyester resin mixed with dyes is injected into specially designed molds that form half shells of the ball.
– Joining Halves Together: The two halves are then fused using heat while rotating to create one complete sphere-shaped ball.
– Refining & Polishing: After cooling down, each ball undergoes precision refining processes followed by polishing treatments to achieve smoothness for optimal roll behavior.


Understanding what materials billiards balls are made of enables players to make informed decisions about their equipment choices. Whether you opt for durable phenolic resin or more affordable polyester options, both offer varying levels of performance suited for different skill levels or preferences. So next time you step up to play a game of billiards, appreciate the craftsmanship behind these small but crucial spheres that contribute to an enjoyable experience for players worldwide.