You’d be hard-pressed to find a QLP employee who doesn’t have a stress ball of some sort on their desk. It’s not because we’re constantly stressed out (maybe on some days); we just have a ton of them around the office. Plus, our mascot Bubba is a stress ball, and he’s pretty hard to avoid.
We’d be surprised if you’ve never seen a stress ball before, either. Sometimes they are called stress relievers because they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. They’re usually squishy, some more so than others, but their intended purpose is pretty straightforward.
A stress ball is a small, malleable ball that (usually) fits comfortably in the palm of a hand. The whole idea is to squeeze the stress ball to relieve stress. Probably didn’t need to put that explanation in there, but we’re not judging if you didn’t pick up on that.
Emotional stress can be relieved by tightly squeezing a stress ball; a stress ball can also be used to relieve pain or discomfort from repetitive movements (like typing on a keyboard all day). Part of the reason that stress balls are popular promotional items is because they are pretty inexpensive to make but will still offer a load of customization options.
Everyone loves stress balls, but have you ever wondered how they are made?
Standard Stress Balls
Professionally crafted stress balls are often made from a special type of foam rubber known as closed-cell polyurethane (use that in your next Words with Friends game). A mold is created in the shape of the stress ball and injected with a special liquid, which results in a chemical reaction that forms carbon dioxide bubbles. Those bubbles create the foam that makes the stress ball nice and squishy.
All stress balls aren’t the same, though. The squishiness of the ball depends on a couple different factors. The denser a stress ball is, the firmer it will be. To measure density, we use something called a durometer. Essentially a durometer is a hardness scale, and the harder an object is, the higher its durometer. Polyurethane has a pretty wide range on the hardness scale, which means stress balls can be super squishy or pretty firm. In fact, some polyurethane material can be denser than a car tire tread.
That’s why when you look at our website and see four different versions of an apple stress ball, they’ll all look a little different. If you were to order them all (and we wouldn’t turn you away if you wanted to), you would see that the apples all feel a little different as well.
Custom Stress Balls
Believe it or not, stress relievers can be customized to your exact specifications if needed. Many companies have designed their own stress balls to look like company mascots or department heads! Stress relievers can even be made to emit a pleasing scent like lilac or peppermint when they are handled. Some stress balls are not even balls at all; they are available in the shape of an animal, a cartoon character, or something equally eye-catching.
Custom stress balls are made essentially the same way as standard shapes, but with a few pretty important changes. First off, you’re creating a stress ball that has never been made before. So, a brand new mold has to be created. Different dyes also need to be made for each color featured in the stress ball.
Other than that, the process is pretty similar. Once the special liquid is injected into the custom mold, the same polyurethane foam rubber is formed, but this time into a custom shape.
After the stress balls are made (whether they’re standard or custom), they are imprinted with a company’s name, logo, slogan, and sometimes contact information. Typically they are handed out as promotional products to customers and potential clients at tradeshows or conventions, but for particularly stressful jobs, some companies may hand out stress balls to their own employees. No matter how you got your hands on a stress ball, these squishy and colorful balls of foam can take a load off your worried mind!
Homemade Stress Balls
Polyurethane stress balls are the most durable ones you can buy, and it’s not very practical to try to imprint 100 homemade stress balls. However, making a stress ball out of everyday household items is pretty easy.
Typical homemade stress balls are made from rubber balloons filled with safe household fillers like cornstarch or flour, and some people even prefer to make them from all-organic fillers like rice, beans, or grains. Again, professionally-made stress balls are better suited for businesses looking to create more brand awareness for their company, but homemade ones can make for a fun craft at home when it’s time to get the kids away from social media or the television.
Knowing how stress balls are made can come in handy for businesses
that want to have a unique but useful stress reliever
made from their desired materials. Since stress balls can be made either by
hand or by a company that specializes in their manufacture, a wide selection of
stress balls can be found to fit almost any person’s taste or personality.
Regardless of the shape or size, most people soon learn that stress balls are
hard to resist handling whenever one is nearby!