In anticipation of the start of Euro 2012, thoughts probably turn more to the upcoming festival of football (or soccer depending on your whereabouts) – and maybe the odd beer to celebrate or commiserate match results – as opposed to materials characterization that we here at Malvern are involved in daily.

But the two are inextricably linked, as revealed by developments that have led to the new tournament football in use at Euro 2012, where advances in polyurethane dispersion and resin technology are at the forefront.

Such materials are familiar to us at Malvern, as our technologies are used to characterize polyurethane dispersions at all stages of the product lifecycle – from particle and molecular characterization of constituent components, to formulation development and stability, to assessment of processing, application and end-use product performance with rheology. The drive for our customers is to re-formulate with reduced environmental impact – lower solvent content and lower energy requirements being key considerations – but also to continually improve the performance of their coating and adhesive products.

As proven by extensive product testing, the improved performance from the polyurethane coatings and adhesives used in the Euro 2012 match balls helps to bestow the following benefits – best possible contact with the player’s foot for good control; high elasticity to quickly regain its spherical shape for optimal flight; and being almost completely waterproof these essential properties are maintained whatever the weather conditions.

It’s now down to the players to use the latest in materials technology to deliver the highest quality football for us all to enjoy over the next few weeks…..but with all the ongoing advances in materials science clearly evident in the match ball for Euro 2012, let’s hope a lack of technology on the goal line doesn’t turn out to be the abiding memory of this tournament……!