A legend in the billiard
For several decades Belgian Aramith Billiard balls have
enjoyed a legendary reputation for outstanding endurance
and uncompromised quality. Used by almost 80% of players
worldwide, they are recognised as the reference of the
Made by Saluc in Belgium, Aramith excellence is the result
of a high-tech process that combines the unmatched
characteristics of phenolic resin with fine Belgian
Their consistently reliable performance guarantees players
the pleasure of razor-sharp precision. Their exceptionally
long product life offers the table owner the lowest ball
cost on an annual basis. That is how Aramith for almost
half a century gained its legendary reputation as
signature for true and unrivalled quality.
Aramith, the signature of true Belgian Quality.
The Aramith legend : Inside Pool's story on Saluc, the Belgian billiard balls manufacture - September 2005
* With the permission of Inside Pool Magazine
Without being familiar with the industry, very few would guess that nearly 80% of the billiard balls
used worldwide come from a small village in the countryside of Belgium. For over half a century,
the company SALUC SA has produced in the secrecy of its premises in Callenelle the unique and
well-known Aramith phenolic balls, making this miniscule village the world’s capital of billiard ball
production. But how did a company in a region not precisely dedicated to the sport of billiards, come
to such an involvement?
“Saluc was established in nineteen twenty-three and was at the time specialized in the manufacturing of synthetic tannins in Callenelle, supplying to about forty tanneries in the area,” said Curt
Bossuyt, CEO. “After the Second World War, the quasi-total disappearance of this industry in the
region and the tough competition of some chemical giants progressively compromised Saluc’s activities and forced the company to look for alternatives.”
THE KEY FACTOR: PHENOLIC RESIN
Based on its chemical know-how in the manufacturing of phenolic resins, Saluc detected a
valid opportunity in the conversion to making billiard balls. “This choice had two reasons,” said
Bossuyt. “The phenolic resin features excellent physical and chemical characteristics. In addition,
the billiard market was in full expansion.”
Commercialization of the first balls started in the sixties at a time when competition against
three already well-established manufacturers was difficult. Through the continuous fine-tuning of
quality and the increase of production levels, Saluc succeeded to take a major competitive lead.
Today, Saluc is the only company worldwide producing phenolic billiard balls, exporting over 99%
of its production to more than 60 countries.
Contrary to polyester, the phenolic resin that Saluc uses has been specifically designed for the
billiard application and is produced within the company in its own chemical plant. This unique technology leads to a material especially suitable, with unmatched characteristics such as its chip- and
scratch-resistance. “The Aramith phenolic balls last up to five times longer than other balls made of
polyester,” said Yves Bilquin, sales and marketing manager for North America and previously the
R&D manager. “Their unique structure, more than one hundred times finer than mineral-filled polyester, gives the Aramith balls their specific reactivity and allows them to hold their high-gloss polish over time, resulting in minimal ball and table cloth wear.”
“There is simply no comparison,” said Vito Leo, PhD in material science and solid state
physics and associated professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, who performed independent
tests on a specifically designed billiard table simulator. “When all kinds of polyester balls found on
the market are tested, including DAP-based and other types, both the cloth and the balls are greatly
damaged after some times—some even destroyed—whereas the Aramith balls, along with the cloth used, show an exceptional shape even after extensive longevity tests.”
On the top of that, high-end phenolic balls feature an extra-hard, dense, and translucent vitrification layer that gives the exceptional characteristics to the products. “These characteristics make the Aramith sets an easy sell for the retailers,” reported Bilquin. “We give trainings on
dealers’ requests that allow the salespeople to explain why the phenolic resin is the natural
choice and why upgrading to a higher-end Aramith set gives value to the player. That way, the retailer ensures its customers the highest satisfaction and the lowest yearly cost, thanks to the
low table and cloth maintenance the Aramith balls provide. Poolrooms, all massively using Aramith balls only, give more evidence that with
Aramith balls one can satisfy the demanding player while still minimizing cloth and ball-operating costs.”
A WELL-KEPT SECRET
Thanks to the upstream process integration, a tight control of the raw material is possi
ble. The thirteen-step production process lasts up to 23 days and includes casting and curin
processes, combined with unique grinding anstate-of-the-art polishing technology
Throughout the process, computerized technology continuously interfaces with and assist
craftsmanship to guarantee the tightest tolerances and specifications. Regardless of the man
automated and statistical quality controls used each ball is still checked manually before leaving the factory to provide the worldwide distribution
network with reliable output. Quality also means respect of our environment. Saluc maintains a full water treatment facility which incorporates environment-friendly
processes with sophisticated technology. "We are proud to be the only company respectful of the environment," said Bossuyt. "and well continue
to invest to allow us to continue to integrate state of the art technology to the benefit of our customers".
USED BY ALL THE PROS
The Aramith ball sets are the reference, used in virtually all events an
tournaments worldwide, whether in pool, snooker, or carom disciplines.
Organizations such as the United States Professional Poolplayer
Association, the American PoolplayerAssociation, and many
others have also appointed Aramith as the exclusive official
balls used in their tournaments. The pool set
chosen, as seen on TV, is the Super AramithPro-Cup, which features the famous design-protected six red dots cue ball that cumulates
razor-sharp precision with visualization of the rotation, which is a big help for both the
viewers and the players. This new product is often requested by amateurs and the pros alike.
A WHOLE RANGE WITH THE TIGHTEST SPECIFICATIONS.
Besides pool, snooker, and carom billiards, numerous other varieties of billiard
games exist throughout the world. Besides more than 800 different billiard types, Saluc makes
balls in a range from 3/8 inch to over 7 inches, for applications going from industrial, computer, and medical to 9-pin and duck-pin bowling balls.
The Aramith phenolic resin is manufactured in several varieties, going from the
Premier quality to the PREMIUM to Super Aramith (which is used most in high-precision
carom balls) and Super Aramith PRO, used for the top-of-the-line pool balls. With the increasing quality, the resin gets a finer grain, resulting in fantastic polish that remains over long period
of times. Most importantly, though, through the different hardening steps, the material gets a
transparent vitrified surface that is highly wear-resistant, making the ball and
the cloth last a lot longer.
Regardless of the quality level, all balls are controlled along seven basic
criteria: density, balance, diameter tolerance, roundness, color precision, surface
polish, and brilliance.
The Premier variety is the most widely known, because of its excellent
price-to-quality ratio. Still, the PREMIUM variety was recently introduced as
the next generation to the Premier quality to assure even lower yearly ball and
cloth cost. With its Vitrotech technology, the PREMIUM ball surface is completely through-hardened, giving it its unique transparent vitrified surface and
increasing the surface density and hence its longevity. Its very fine molecular
structure has been engineered to resist to
the high-friction temperatures when the ball slips into roll. As its surface doesn’t
rough up, it keeps its smooth polish a lot longer and won’t rough up the cloth
either, making a lot of dollar difference for the table operator.
As the top of the line, the Super Aramith PRO set distinguishes itself by
its beautiful design and numbers and the maximized in-depth vitrification of its surface resulting in exceptional longevity.
More importantly, it is a fully matched professional set, where precise calibration of each ball
guarantees maximum consistency within the set. The Super Aramith PRO also exists in the
Centennial design produced for Brunswick.
SIGNATURE OF TRUE QUALITY
Many people still seem to think that ball diameter tolerance or roundness is the major
characteristic for a billiard ball. While they are not without importance, these characteristics
are relatively easily achieved. And still even if you have the best ball tolerance, you’ll enjoy it
only as much as the precision of the rail mounting, which is always much lower than the ball.
That’s why the quality and precision during the game is dictated much more by the
balls’ raw material, their molecular structure, and their density and the resulting rebound
quality. Too much rebound or too little results in erratic ball behavior, making shots and ball
repositioning very random.
Chemical production processes are also extremely important, as they may seriously
influence the balls’ balance. A lack of balance
results in a zigzagging roll, definitely influencing the contact point between two balls and
making you wonder why you missed that shot.
Finally, on the high-end side of the line the rate of consistency for all these characteristics between
any balls within that same set is maximized to almost perfection, because it is
essential for professional play. That’s the case of the Super Aramith PRO ball sets, which are
individually matched to constitute a quasi-perfect homogeneous set. This is why Aramith has
for decades been exclusively selected by practically all professional federations and championships worldwide. These top-of-the-line specifications are applied in snooker and carom professional ball sets as well. No wonder that in the carom discipline, which many consider as one of
the most difficult disciplines in billiard sports, Aramith is undisputedly the only brand being
The world of billiards changes over time
and, more significantly, since last year. The players are increasingly becoming more demanding
about high-performances products. Now league players bring their own ball sets to play with a
quality product instead of a lesser-maintained, lower-end set he may find on the table.
“This is to address these more demanding and discriminating players that Aramith is developing new attractive high-end products such as cases, allowing to hold a set and cues,” said
Bilquin. “We will work more closely with the trade to have these products easily available to
the retailers and the poolrooms.
“Billiards is a sport of passionate people. We as manufacturers are as passionate to supply
players and trade with the products that make them enjoy their sport, while increasing their
performance. Aramith is committed to bring value to
the end user, value to the trade.”