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wilson releases 3D printed airless basketball with hexagonal holes

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Wilson Sporting Goods is revolutionizing the game of basketball with its innovative 3D-printed airless basketball, the Airless Gen1. Unlike traditional basketballs that rely on inflation, the Airless Gen1 features a 3D-printed polymer lattice structure that replicates the bounce, flight, and feel of a regular ball. This groundbreaking design is limited to just 75 units for the Gen1, making it a highly sought-after collector’s item.

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The development of the Airless Gen1 began with a prototype featuring hexagonal holes across the surface, allowing air to pass through freely. This design was put to the test during the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest in February 2023, where Houston Rockets’ player KJ Martin praised its performance, stating that he couldn’t feel any difference from a traditional ball used in playoffs. Since then, Wilson has refined the design, introducing new dyed colorways including Jet Black, Natural, and Brown, as well as incorporating a number inscribed into the lattice design of each ball for authenticity.

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The black-dyed Airless Gen1 offers a seamless rebound, stripped of any air, thanks to its hexagonal structure. Wilson’s goal with this innovation is to provide sports equipment that requires less maintenance and utilizes new technologies like 3D printing. The Airless Gen1 eliminates the need for constant inflation, providing a consistent bounce using a 3D-printed lattice structure and research-grade materials.

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The surface of the Airless Gen1 is designed with small hexagonal holes to facilitate air flow, enhancing its bounce. The ball also features a familiar seam structure and eight panel-like lobes, similar to a traditional basketball. Wilson plans to apply similar design elements to other ball-related sports in the future.

Collaborating with EOS, a 3D-printing solutions company, Wilson was able to bring the Airless Gen1 to life. The rigorous testing process ensured that the ball performed like an air-filled basketball, meeting the high standards of players and enthusiasts alike.

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While the Airless Gen1 is currently in prototype stage, Wilson is working towards commercializing this innovative basketball. The company’s design team and engineers are committed to creating a product that not only looks and feels like a traditional basketball but also delivers the performance expected by players at all levels.

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