Etching on a basketball?

I’ve seen laser-etched basketball gifts before, i.e. a real basketball with designs etched in with a laser.

Was wondering if anyone has tried this or knows if it’d be safe to attempt in a Glowforge? If the outer coating is just leather it seems it’d be ok, but I don’t know if it’s some sort of rubberized leather or similar compound.

Whaddaya’ll think?


I think I can’t wait to see how you compress a deflated ball to under 2" to fit into the machine.


You’d need to find out what is on the basketball. If you go to the manufacturer’s website they may have a material data sheet (MDS, formerly known as MSDS) for it. There is a section that will tell you what happens if you burn it.


oh thats easy just cut it in half :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: hehe


Spalding top-of-the-line basketballs are made from full grain leather, but be careful when deflating because if you pop the inner rubber bladder or crack the exterior leather it’ll never inflate/bounce right again!

I haven’t done it, but I have deflated and re-inflated balls (years and years ago!)


I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it :slight_smile:

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Good data! Thx!

Along with what @deirdrebeth said, what examples you’ve seen the etching is all done on the pieces before they are stitched together. There’s a good segment on making basketballs (showing real leather ones) on “How It’s Made”, and would be good to watch that to understand how they’re made first to decide if it’s even worth trying to do on a deflated one, but I really doubt you can fit that into the GF after safe deflation (without cutting out the bottom of the GF bed…).


i mean, that’s kind of the biggest bridge. it won’t matter if the material is engravable if you can’t fit it in the machine.

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I’ve never handled a fully deflated basketball, will it really not compress to less than 2".

As a kid I used a bike pump to inflate partially deflated ones plenty of times.

when you deflate a ball, they tend to maintain some of their round shape because of how the panels are created. they’re difficult to make flat.

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You can certainly get the middle down to a small number, but the edges won’t “fold”, and without some kind of serious compression (which would add height as well), I doubt you’d fit it under the gantry.

I’m prepared to be proven wrong, per my initial comment - can’t wait to see how they solve that!

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Actually it’s an SDS now - Safety Data Sheet vs Material Safety Data Sheet. The switch started 6 or 7 years ago and was supposed to be complete 4 or 5 years ago. But it’s gonna be like switching to the metric system :crazy_face:

And this is why making me watch a video once a year about it is pointless. I couldn’t even remember which letter was dropped.