Student team creates colors on Jeu de Boules balls
Studenten Advanced Technology work on challenge via Novel-T SMART.
It should be possible, but how? This is the question from the Dutch Jue de Boules Association (NJBB). This sport has a strongly growing popularity, both among the young and the old. However, the identically colored grey balls make the game difficult to follow. How can you give them color as well as an appearance? Via Novel-T SMART students accepted this challenge.
Three students from Advanced Technology have been working hard to solve this question. They did it as a project for their study tour. Study association Astatine has organized a trip toward Australia and Singapore for 2022. For the work these students conducted, they get a contribution from the Dutch Jeu de Boules Association (NJBB) to help pay for their study trip.
‘It is beautiful to see how much work these guys have done in such a short period’ says the NJBB-director Twan Beckers. ‘They came up with a whole range of solutions of which they weigh the pros and cons critically. Three different coloring- and production strategies seem highly potential. We are happy that the team will continue into the next phase with us, on personal title. We are happy to invest in this.’
Ward Huijskes, Noud Smeman en Martijn van der Linden used their knowledge, creativity, and detective power, even though it was impossible to physically work together or with experts. ‘There are a lot of different conditions’ explains Ward Huijskes. ‘The balls are made from steel and the production process cannot be changed too much. Luckily, other processes are possible like chrome plating, ceramic layers, or powder spraying.’
Some options did not make it through the first critical consideration, for example, because the extra layer did not bind, or the geometry of the balls changed. Also, the scratch resistance and limitations with color variations were sometimes a problem. And … the new balls cannot become too expensive.
Moment for innovation
Jeu de Boules was up and coming just moments for corona came. This is also the reason the NJBB wanted to up the game to a new level by making it more professional as well as more accessible for practice. The turn-out to boules-bars (in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, Groningen, Nijmegen, Utrecht) was spectacular, with average visitor numbers of around thousands per bar per year, in the age range from 20 to 45.
‘That was the moment for innovation, and it still is,’ explains Twan Beckers. ‘Visually following matches (as well as during recreational as with official matches) is experienced as a problem for promotion of the sport. There are recreational boules on the market where the grooves (striages) are colored. However, after using them two times those colors in the grooves disappeared because of the impacts from the balls on the grind and/or on other balls. This is no structural solution. We also do not want balls made from plastic. That would mean that we do not take the game seriously in our eyes.’
Twan is very enthusiastic about the work and effort of the students. ‘They found alternatives where we would never think of. Luckily, some of the ideas did not make it until the end, we have three complete concepts with which the students gladly want to continue. I admire their work mindset: they are not afraid of setbacks, and they do not get overwhelmed by the shortcomings of Corona. They are constantly looking for creative ways to continue, that is why I am happy that the core of this team will continue, and I am very optimistically tuned.’
Spokesperson Ward Huijskes from the student team describes the next steps, ‘We do not know when we can go to the labs for making a few prototypes, but this will be possible no matter what.’ he says. ‘After that, we will test these prototype balls the hard way by putting them in the concrete mill from my uncle. Add some grind and let it turn firmly, this would give us a good idea of the robustness of the different coloring methods. I am looking forward to it already.’
Novel-T SMART is the link between regional business and students to accelerate innovations. On this independent platform, we help companies and social organizations to sharpen their demand for innovation and and to translate it into a student project and find the right entrances at the knowledge institutions. Conversely, students gain relevant work experience during their studies with challenging project and sidejobs at innovative companies in the region.