If you plan to learn how to customize billiard ball sets yourself, think again. It is certainly possible to use home engraving equipment and similar processes to customize your own billiard balls. However, unless you just happen to have engraving and filling equipment for phenolic resin plastic lying around your garage or basement, your attempt to customize billiard ball sets yourself will be a waste of time. Regulation billiard ball sets available on the market are phenolic resin plastic, as required by the World Billiards Association. Unless you fill in the engraving or have the equipment to sublimate or imprint graphics into the resin, then return the ball to its original surface and finish, your billiard set will never play right again.
While learning how to customize billiard ball sets yourself is most likely not an option, there are numerous companies and billiard suppliers who can provide you with custom ball sets. Before you order, you may need a few things like image files for logos, signatures, or any custom graphics you want. Today, billiard ball suppliers and manufacturing companies can customize billiard ball sets in a variety of ways, with virtually any image or likeness you want.
- Decide how you want to customize billiard ball sets. Do you just want a custom cue ball or a whole set of custom billiard balls? Do you want your signature, a specific image, company logo, or other graphic? If you plan to use anything other than simple text to customize billiard ball sets, you will need image files to supply the company doing the custom work.
- Decide the process you want to use to customize billiard ball sets. Options include engraving and filling (called inlaid,) sublimation, and imprinting. Engraving involves carving into the resin then refilling and resurfacing the balls. Sublimation involves applying the graphic to the surface of the ball, then covering with a clear coating to finish the polished surface and protect the graphic. Imprinting usually involves clear billiard balls with a logo infused in the center, viewable from either side of the ball.
- Educate yourself on the pros and cons of each method. Engraving is best for text, with options for computerized or laser engraving. Sublimation and imprinting are generally used for graphics, logos, and other detailed images. Sublimation techniques vary in terms of how the graphic is applied, whether printed directly on the ball, a decal affixed to the substrate of the ball, or other methods.
- Prepare any necessary image files. If you plan to use graphics, you will need to create or supply an image file in the format preferred by the company you select. Be advised, copyrighted logos and graphics may be a problem if you do not have documentation of proper permissions.
- Prepare the order for your customize billiard ball sets. From this point on, the process is easy. Just follow the instructions provided by your chosen company for sending image files and ordering your billiard ball set.