Pickleball Goes High-Tech: 3D Printing Takes the Sport to New Heights

By on June 8th, 2023 in news, Usage

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Pickleball enthusiasts poking fun at two tennis greats, McEnroe and Borg [Source: The Dink

Charles R. Goulding and Preeti Sulibhavi see a future for 3D printing in the growing sport of Pickleball.

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in America for the third year straight. Pickleball’s participation has grown an average of 159% over the last three years and there are currently 10,320 Pickleball courts in the US. The pickleball paddle market size is estimated at US$152.8M in 2021 and is forecasted to grow at 7.7% CAGR through 2028. The sport, a cross between ping pong, badminton, and tennis, was invented by 3 vacationers on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, in 1965.

Former tennis stars John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Michael Chang are heading back to the courts on April 2, 2023, to battle it out for a US$1M prize, only this time, they’ll be playing a different sport. The tournament will feature two legends in single matches (Roddick versus Chang and McEnroe versus Agassi). The legends will play once again in a final doubles match (McEnroe and Chang versus Roddick and Agassi). This will determine the split of the US$1M prize.

The tennis legends will be swapping their rackets for paddles at the Inaugural Pickleball Slam, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The Slam will also give amateur pickleball players an opportunity to compete in a challenge on March 31 and April 1. Up to 96 doubles teams will compete on a first-come-first-serve basis for a US$10,000 prize, in addition, there is the chance to play two of the tennis legends before their televised matches on April 2nd.

Presumably, participation by four tennis greats will encourage more participants, especially those who already enjoy racket sports such as tennis or ping pong. If anything it will bring more attention to the sport, which has grown exponentially despite little marketing and advertising gimmicks. 

Pickleball schematic [Source: The Dink

Pickleball is easy to learn, fun to play, and can be enjoyed well into one’s later years, making it a popular sport among seniors. Retirement communities, parks and country clubs are all rapidly increasing court installations. 

Wilson’s 3D printed pickleball paddle fabricated using Azul 3D’s Lake printer [Source: sme]

Sports enthusiasts are not the only ones taking notice of Pickleball’s rising popularity. Wilson Sporting Goods and Azul 3D have teamed up to apply additive manufacturing to pickleball. They are working to improve paddle design and function by applying the five key pillars of 3D printing: part consolidation, novel geometries, customization, digital inventory, and localized manufacturing.

Andy Roddick playing pickleball [Source: Pinterest]

We see the integration of 3D printing into pickleball as a no-brainer. 3D printing has been integrated into various sports already. They include cycling, cricket and golf. The involvement of 3D printing in pickleball was inevitable.

The Research & Development Tax Credit

The now permanent Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit is available for companies developing new or improved products, processes and/or software. 

3D printing can help boost a company’s R&D Tax Credits. Wages for technical employees creating, testing and revising 3D printed prototypes can be included as a percentage of eligible time spent for the R&D Tax Credit. Similarly, when used as a method of improving a process, time spent integrating 3D printing hardware and software counts as an eligible activity. Lastly, when used for modeling and preproduction, the costs of filaments consumed during the development process may also be recovered.

Whether it is used for creating and testing prototypes or for final production, 3D printing is a great indicator that R&D Credit eligible activities are taking place. Companies implementing this technology at any point should consider taking advantage of R&D Tax Credits.


It is exciting to see a new outdoor sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages become so popular. 3D printing can be part of the pickleball fun.

By Charles Goulding

Charles Goulding is the Founder and President of R&D Tax Savers, a New York-based firm dedicated to providing clients with quality R&D tax credits available to them. 3D printing carries business implications for companies working in the industry, for which R&D tax credits may be applicable.

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