Do you know what a paintball is made of? Most people don’t think about it, but the construction of a paintball is important to how it functions. In this blog post, we’ll explore what materials comprise a paintball and why each component is necessary. Plus, we’ll take a look at some of the alternative materials that have been proposed for use in paintballs!
A quick answer to what is paintball made of? Paintballs are spherical capsules made of a gelatin shell within which is suspended a more solid substance. In its typical form, paintballs may be around 0.68 inches in diameter and weigh about 40 milligrams each – or roughly the weight of a toothpick!
What’s in a paintball?
Understanding what differentiates one type of paintball from the next, it helps to know what makes up a paintball. Traditional rounds are made out of three main materials: shell, fill, and tip.
The outer shell is generally made out of polyethylene or another similar kind of plastic. It’s designed to be strong and shatter when it hits a surface.
The inside is filled with energetic propellant, dye, and compressed air or carbon dioxide. This mixture of materials helps propel the ball forward while leaving an impression on impact.
Paintballs have a variety of tips depending on their intended use. For example, if you’re using paintballs for target practice, it helps to have round balls that are completely smooth.
However, if you’re using them in a game of capture the flag, they need to stick better so that they don’t bounce off of players’ helmets.
Therefore, the tips of paintballs used in games range from completely smooth to velcro-like surfaces that can stick to clothing or skin.
Since paintball technology is still relatively new, the exact makeup of a paintball continues to be modified and further developed. Some of the alternatives to traditional materials include:
One proposed alternative is to use rubber and impregnate it with dye. This would still leave a mark on contact, but it would be highly elastic and less likely to cause injuries than today’s conventional paintballs.
Another idea that has been put forward is to use cellulose as a shell. Cellulose is made from plant fibers and can be dissolved for easy clean-up. The only problem with this material is that it’s relatively weak and may not go as far as conventional paintballs.
Finally, plastic is a more expensive option that’s been proposed for use in making paintballs. The benefit of using plastic would be to eliminate the need for fill materials when creating them – thus resulting in a product that is purely spherical and not filled with propellant and dye like most conventional rounds.
While some of these alternatives may prove useful in the future, for now their adoption is limited. The vast majority of paintballs still use the same gelatin shell and fill mixture that’s been in place all along.
What does it all mean?
At the end of the day, the construction of paintball matters for its performance in-game. The materials that comprise it determine how far it will go and much momentum it has when fired.
Although some may seem like strange alternatives, each one has its own purpose in modifying what you see on the field.
As the technology continues to advance, it will be interesting to see what new materials are brought into play and which ones stick around for good.
Until then, you can rely on traditional paintballs to help make your next game a great one!