From Prototype to Product: The Launch of Wilson’s 3D Printed Airless Basketball

By on February 14th, 2024 in news, Usage

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Wilson’s 3D printed basketball prototype [Source: Fabbaloo]

There’s a new 3D printed product on the market: an airless basketball.

Fabbaloo readers may recall last year EOS and Wilson Sporting Goods announced the development of a revolutionary airless basketball. They partnered with DyeMansion, General Lattice and SNL Creative to complete the prototype.

While in appearance the ball seems to be just a sphere made of a lattice, but it’s much, much more than that. A “real” basketball has a certain “feel” that’s based on the weight, surface texture, balance and aerodynamics. If one were to simply whip up a lattice ball it would be quickly discounted by players.

Instead, Wilson and EOS spent considerable time with researchers to refine the design of the ball so that it truly does match the performance of “real” basketballs.

Don’t believe me? We’ve actually handled this ball, more than once. It doesn’t exactly look like a basketball, but if you close your eyes and give it a bounce — it’s a basketball!

However, during all this time it was really just an experiment, or so we thought. An interesting research project. A promotional item. A demonstration of what’s possible.

It might have been all those things, but now it’s also a product you can purchase. Wilson explains:

“Building off the success of the Airless Prototype debut last year, the limited-edition Wilson Airless Gen1 basketball will be available for purchase on Feb. 16.”

But it’s more than the prototype. Evidently Wilson and EOS have tweaked the design based on feedback to be an even better basketball. Here’s what’s new:

  • Upgraded lattice design for more consistent performance and bounce. The ball still includes the same see-through lattice with eight panel-like “lobes.”
  • Holes integrated within the channels to help speed up the manufacturing process, making it faster to create each ball. The basketball remains airless and does not to be inflated.
  • Each ball will have a built-in label for customization and will feature the exact, limited number in which it was produced.
  • In addition to the recognizable jet-black colorway of the prototype, the Airless Gen1 will also be available in brown and natural white.

Where do you buy this amazing 3D printed basketball? It’s not going to be in your neighborhood WalMart, as there are extremely limited quantities to be made available. That’s likely due to the cost and effort to produce them.

Instead, the airless ball will be made available on Wilson’s web site, and it will be priced at a whopping US$2,500 each.

That’s a big price for a basketball, but there’s three things here: it’s a very unique item; you’re holding an item years ahead of its time.

The third item? That’s simple: you’ll never have to pump it up.

Via Wilson

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!

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