PARIS (Sept. 26)—First it was hiking boots, then tennis shoes. Now Groupe Michelin rubber engineers are turning their attention to table tennis, where they are helping create an injection-molded tennis paddle that resists the effects of weathering.
Michelin's work with Cornilleau S.A., France's premier supplier to the table-tennis industry, over the past 18 months is part of the firm's Lifestyles brand extension strategy.
The paddles are based on a blade made from composite materials, but also have new playing surfaces based on a "unique elastomer" compound and new geometries. The aim was to produce a bat for use by amateur players that would survive even when left outside in the rain and bright sunshine, the companies said.
The bat does not use any glue or any foam padding behind the playing surface. The paddle is injection molded and the playing surface is then co-molded directly on to the bat.
This production method results in a playing surface that does not peel from the blade, Michelin said, resulting in a bat with much longer life than conventional bats. Michelin added that the rubber compound is resistant to aging effects of high temperature and UV radiation, but did not name the polymer upon which the compound is based.