Compression Testing – Measuring the Force Required to Squash a Tennis Ball

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) invited Mecmesin to bid for a project to replace its outdated ‘Stevens’ test machine which was used to measure the force required to ‘squash’ a tennis ball.

Mecmesin helped develop the specification in consultation with the ITF to offer a fully-automated, pneumatic pick-and-place machine. Before performing the test, each ball had to be exercised or ‘scragged’ to a specific length.


There were three steps involved in each test: touching on the ball, then compressing by a set distance and finally recording the force at that point.

The pneumatic grips then rotate the ball by 90° and the procedure is repeated until it had been applied on all three poles. After the completion of the test, the ball was automatically returned to the carousel, ready for the loading of the next ball. To create a step-by-step compression test program, the PCM software was used. SMC Pneumatics, a Specialist company, helped Mecmesin’s Engineers in specifically designing the pneumatic controls.

To provide the control of the carousel and pneumatic grips at exactly the right moment during the test routine, SMC’s system was interfaced with the PCM tension/compression software. The PCM software provided Pass/Fail analysis of results as well as a simple statistical report, upon completion of the test. This test specification is officially designated as ITF test method TB03/02.


  • Pneumatic pick-and-place testing station
  • 1000 N loadcell
  • PCM controlled automatic force testing system, based on existing MultiTest range


Mecmesin was our first choice when we decided to upgrade our tennis ball testing system. They provided a bespoke service: meeting our specific requirements and providing a fully-integrated solution. We value their understanding of our business, attention to detail and prompt support.

Jamie Capel-Davies, Manager of Science and Technical, International Tennis Federation (ITF)

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Mecmesin Limited.

For more information on this source, please visit Mecmesin Limited.

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