Motion System Design

Strike technology could score you spare change

How would you like to win $5,000? How about $2,000? Cash prizes will be awarded to the individual or team who submits the best design for a device that can measure the amount of friction on a bowling lane. The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) is holding the contest and the winning apparatus will be used to measure the coefficient of friction on bowling lanes to determine compliance with USBC competition guidelines. Deadline for submission is Dec. 10.

To judge designs, USBC will use its testing facility, an eight-lane center in a climate-controlled building where engineers regulate and standardize bowling equipment by conducting pin and product testing, research, bowling center certifications, and lane dressing inspections. Most recently, the USBC has adopted a new bowling pin specification. Beginning this month, a high-tech device will be used to test the pins' outer materials.

Engineers will use a Fourier transform infrared spectrometer — an optical instrument with a computer interface — to measure and identify the chemical structure of wood and synthetic bowling pin sample materials sent to USBC by pin manufacturers. For the test, a material sample is placed under a sensor and data is displayed on a computer screen. The outer clear coat, pin coating, and base material must maintain at least a 98 percent correlation from the original samples for the manufacturer to retain a permit and continue making that pin for competition.

In addition to pins, the technology could also be used to test ball cover stocks as well as lane surfaces, oils, and cleaners. Visit the specifications and certification section of for more information and contest rules. For more on friction, visit and search “friction facts.”

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