Whether it’s a broadcasted professional basketball or a friendly game on a local court, most Wilson’s 3D-Printed Airless Basketball competitions are impeded by air pressure loss. And usually, people don’t carry an air pump with an appropriately sized needle to refill it.

According to the National Basketball Association (NBA), basketball should have air pressure between 7.5 and 8.5 psi. (Pounds per square inch) The Wilson’s 3D-Printed Airless Basketball won’t bounce properly if the filling pressure is below the specified range, and explodes if it is above the standard range.

Considering these significant issues, a company called Wilson, which makes the official NBA game basketball launched a Wilson’s 3D-Printed Airless Basketball prototype during the 2023 NBA All-Star Game celebrations.

Have a read of this blog to learn more about this innovative invention.


3D-Printed Airless Basketball

We all think Wilson’s 3D-printed Airless Basketball is an ordinary item, but it is also open to innovation.

The term “airless” implies that this ball doesn’t require inflation. It doesn’t require constant inflation to maintain its spherical shape. The best part is that it replicates the bouncing qualities of a typical basketball thanks. Its distinctive structure and research-grade materials.

According to Wilson, unlike anything we’ve ever seen, this ball is made to function like the basketballs we’ve always known. The prototype’s surface comprises a lattice of tiny hexagonal holes that permit airflow.

Calling it an airless product invention may be controversial as the air can still pass straight through it.  It just eliminates the use of air pumps to make them bounce or absorb impacts.

Before Wilson’s 3D-Printed Airless Basketball technology, around 12 years ago, the Bridgestone company introduced airless tires for a single-seater vehicle at Tokyo Motor Show. These airless tires comprise plastic resin layers that deform to absorb impacts while maintaining wheel shape so they can roll.

3d printed airless basketball

A Prototype Developed Through Collaboration

Behind the manufacturing of the prototype, there were three main collaborators with Wilson.

The first is G.L. Labs, a General Lattice enterprise solutions business that worked closely to convert the concept of a basic idea into a manufacturable product. The G.L. Labs team successfully streamed the design and iteration process by effectively using its computational design tools and services.

According to G.L. Labs CEO Nick Florek, the flexibility offered by the company is praised for enabling customers to integrate data throughout. The design process to gain ideal solutions more quickly.

Moreover, this partnership with Wilson marks their latest attempt at broadening their nationwide commercial reach. As of 2021, General Lattice announced plans to expand its U.S. operations and U.S. client base with the help of $1 million in pre-seed finance.

During the design stage process, the game changer for this project was the 3D-printing solutions company called EOS. It is printed on the basketball using an EOS P 396 SLS 3D printer. Most of its clients are aerospace and medical companies.

For coloring and the last touch-up, the basketball’s outer skin and smooth black color finished surface were then created by DyeMansion using their Deep Dye Colouring and Vapor Fuse Surfacing technology.

Structure Of The Ball

The structure of the ball, which has eight panel-like lobes and a see-through black mesh, ensures that it does not require inflation before usage. Lester Hitch, an application consultant at DyeMansion North America, emphasized the importance of the project, stating that redesigning the basketball. The game’s most crucial component was “no small venture.

This 3D printing basketball employs powdered resin solidified by a laser to transform into ultra-thin stacked layers and can dye in different colors. It also meets the performance standards of a regular basketball, including its weight, size, and bounce capacity.

Yet the NBA has yet to decide whether to switch toward Wilson’s 3D-printed basketball.

However, the 3D-printed basketball debuted first during the opening round of the 2023 Slam Dunk competition held on 18 February when Kenyon Martin Jr. of the Houston Rockets used it.

prototype development process

Wider World of Sport with Additive Manufacturing

Wilson’s airless basketball illustrates the latest application of additive technology in sports. The popular sports equipment manufacturing giant Adidas developed its 3D-printed 4D midsole. The 4DFWD will continue its long-standing collaboration with 3D printing company Carbon in 2021.

Carbon worked closely with Adidas designers. It created this improved running midsole using their digital light synthesis (DLS) 3D printing technology. Demonstrations showed that under mechanical testing conditions. The 4DFWD could generate up to three times as much forward motion as earlier models.

Later in the same year, Adidas and the eyewear firm Marcolin Group joined forces to design and release the 3D CMPT glasses. These 20-gram 3D-printed sports spectacles will only be available for a limited time starting in August 2021 at $415.

Additionally, in 2021.  The German design firm DQBD worked with the additive manufacturing business Stratasys. It create custom bike saddles using the H350 3D printer. The DQBD firm claimed that the 3D-printed load-bearing components of saddle reduced the lead times from six months to 10 days while also saving £22,000.

The company’s CEO, Sebastian Hess, emphasized the significance of additive manufacturing in the company’s business model by saying, “We designed the saddle with additive manufacturing in mind. “He stated that this technology allows for a significant opportunity to customize goods in a manner that conventional methods cannot replicate.”

additive manufacturing

Final Thoughts

Wilson Sporting Goods Company is a prominent provider of sports equipment in the United States. It has revealed an experimental prototype for what they are marketing as the first 3D-printed airless basketball by Wilson. The Chicago-based 3D design experts General Lattice, 3D printer producer EOS. The  post-processing firm DyeMansion collaborated to create this innovative airless ball.

According to Wilson, the ball’s weight, size, and rebound (bounce) almost match the requirements of a standard basketball. KJ Martin of the Houston Rockets displayed. The playability of the prototype during the opening round of the AT&T Slam Dunk competition at a recent NBA All-Star game held on February 18, 2023.

Martin spoke to the occasion as “really special,” highlighting how Wilson’s creativity through this prototype “is so important to the future of basketball. “

wilson sporting goods company

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