The zorb, invented by two friends from St. Petersburg, is like a giant rubber band. It slowly unwinds as it compresses, but after it stretches and expands, it returns to its original shape. Only the inner ball turns inside the outer ball, just like a rubber band. The zorb balls are all made of plastic, but they’re not transparent. They’re fired out of a cannon and then compressed into a spiral shape.
A zorb is made of three parts: the inner and outer balls; rope connecting them; and a cannon firing the balls out of their launcher. The process of making one of these things is similar to making an origami dog or butterfly.
The inner and outer balls are made from very strong plastic (more than 1 millimeter in thickness). They’re made to be transparent so you can see through them when they’re compressed into a spiral shape, but they also have an inner core that helps hold them together.
The rope connecting them keeps them connected inside the cannon when the cannon fires it out of its barrel. The rope is made from nylon, which doesn’t stretch when it’s pulled tight or twisted with great force, so it holds everything together even after the pressure inside the cannon has released all its energy (which happens very quickly).
The rope starts at one end of each ball and winds around itself in a spiral direction as it stretches to become one long piece before finally wrapping around another ball to connect them together again at the other end.
The History of the zorb
Zorb balls have been around since the early 1990s, but they were not commercialized until 2000. The first zorb came out of NASA’s Ames Research Center and was developed to get the astronauts out of orbit. The technology was licensed by NASA, who originally tried to market the product to the space community, but were unsuccessful in this regard, since most people don’t know that it can be used for other purposes.
The zorb technology is a fairly simple one, as anyone who has played with a zorb ball will tell you: you can use it for anything that would normally require a large amount of friction (such as sled racing) and it’s simple design makes it easy to make and manage. This makes it an ideal technology for cargo ships (it is essentially air trapped in a plastic bag). NASA later discovered that if it could be made transparent enough, engineers could use a zorb ball to create an effective sunshade for space shuttles.
These days though, the technology is more widely used in agriculture (since you can use them in more than just sunshades). It works well with cotton crops as well because of their sturdiness (though if you try to lift one of these things up with your bare hands, you are going to get bruises).
How it Works
“Zorb” is the brand name for a type of transparent plastic ball. It is made from polyvinyl chloride, which is strong and flexible. It is used to make zorb balls, which are used for many different things, including mazes.
The zorb balls are transparent but strong enough to withstand a lot of pressure (and no doubt have a lot of other uses as well). One reason they are so flexible is because they have a very thin internal core that isn’t affected by the pressure that builds up around them. This makes them suitable for use in mazes and other tasks requiring low friction.
Building a zorb
Zorb-making is a process that takes a long time, it is a slow process. The zorb balls are made by tying ropes together. Passive zorb-making uses the same principle as passive solar power: When the sun shines on your roof, you make electricity by taking advantage of the energy once it has been stored in the roof’s walls and roof tiles. In this way, passive solar power can be used to create an electrical current for your home.
In the opposite way of passive solar power (when you open the windows), the zorb is a product that does not work in much the same way — but it does have its advantages too. Zorb-making is very similar to building an electric car from scratch; however, unlike building an electric car from scratch, it should be possible to run a zorb on batteries within minutes; this makes it suitable for applications where there are no or very few batteries or they are extremely expensive and cannot be repaired quickly. A zorb can also make electricity without needing to connect wires directly to your grid, but you still need cables to connect it to your batteries…
The Science Behind the zorb
The zorb ball is an interesting experiment, because it tests the limits of compression. A compression test on the zorb ball would be a pretty good way of testing whether it is strong enough to hold up under the pressure of a big bag, with six men trying to push it in.
It’s important to keep in mind that this isn’t just a “two-player game” (even if you get past your first opponent). It’s also a competition between two teams: one pushing the zorb, and one pulling it back. And as soon as one team gets ahead in pushing, they can make up for their lead by pulling; and when one team pulls first, they can make up for their deficit by pushing.
What are zorb balls? They are balls with a special coating, made from a very strong 0.8mm plastic. The coating gives them the ability to withstand spinning in certain ways and also to resist being punctured. They’re used to protect canisters of air, letting them spin until they lose their shape and then break apart.
Zorb balls are not a new idea; they were invented back in 1993 by Japanese inventor Masanori Onoda, who initially developed them for use during the bombing of World War II. Assembling the balls was extremely challenging and expensive at the time, which led him to develop an automated method for their manufacture (he eventually patented his process in Japan). He sold his invention to a Japanese aerospace company that used it as part of their aircraft maintenance program (which is why I mention this in my post on product-market fit).
My father is still using zorb balls (though he’s using them more for fun than for making airplanes) and he was able to get me started on them after I saw one he had rigged up with some rope and pulleys. One very interesting detail about zorb balls: when you buy one, you should never ask for it by name; instead you should ask for “zorb ball”! This is because the manufacturer usually refers to them as “bags of air” or “air bags”. The name “zorb ball” is only used when they’re being made! A good rule of thumb: if somebody asks you what your personal brand is, say “zorb ball/bag of air!”