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Published on June 13, 2018

Wacky World of Rubber: Kicking around EPDM at the 2018 World Cup

The rubber layer of the soccer ball—or that sponge directly underneath its outer cover—is made from Arlanxeo's Keltan Eco 6950 EPDM rubber.

With all due respect to American football, the real thing is about to take center stage.

The World Cup, arguably the biggest event in sports, kicks off June 14. And while the U.S. men's team did not qualify (looking forward to the U.S. ladies dominating the world, again, in 2019!), 32 worthy teams did, and the world's best will be crowned during the next month.

Rubber, of course, will be littered throughout the tournament. I recently posted about artificial turf and have no doubt some of the ones used in Russia also contain rubber/urethane elements to ensure quality of play.

But let's not forget about that Adidas soccer ball. There will be plenty of them kicked around from now until July 15. The tournament went through 3,240 balls in 2014, and every 2018 version contains an EPDM rubber compound from Arlanxeo.

The rubber layer of the soccer ball—or that sponge directly underneath its outer cover—is made from Keltan Eco 6950 EPDM rubber. The layer serves as a moldable cushion, which Arlanxeo said serves for optimal bounce characteristics during the games. The material had to meet strict requirements for properties such as density, hardness and weight.

Arlanxeo said that Keltan Eco is the world's first EPDM rubber manufactured using bio-based ethylene extracted from sugarcane. Depending on the ethylene content of each rubber grade, the proportion of bio-based material ranges between 50 and 70 percent.

The firm has multiple grades of Keltan Eco rubber on the market, supporting the move toward more sustainable products that match strict environmental requirements. The compound can be used in sporting goods, artificial turfs, athletic tracks and in auto body seals for the automotive industry.

You might not see it, but Arlanxeo's Keltan Eco EPDM rubber will be on display every time one of those soccer balls takes a bounce.

Chris Sweeney loves both kinds of football, but prefers the one with less kicking and more hitting. Follow him on Twitter @CSweeneyRPN.

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