Wilson has officially unveiled its 3D-printed airless basketball prototype, the first of its kind. The revolutionary design was first seen in the hands of Houston Rockets forward KJ Martin for his second dunk in this year’s Slam Dunk Contest, showcasing the real-life functionality of the ball.
Eliminating the need to inflate, the Wilson Airless Prototype relies on a unique structure and research-grade materials to replicate the bounce of a traditional basketball. Designed by the team behind the official NBA game ball, the porous surface of the prototype is fitted with small hexagonal holes allowing outside air to pass through freely, meanwhile, the traditional eight-panel seam structure is kept in place.
“This is a ball unlike anything we’ve ever seen designed to play like the basketballs we’ve always known,” says Wilson.
While shown to be playable, nearly matching the performance specifications of a regulation basketball in terms of weight, size, and bounce, the Wilson Airless is still in its prototype stage, and “there’s still work to do before it’s ready for courts around the world,” the company continues in a statement. For now there will be no changes to the official game ball.
To realize the project, the Wilson Labs team worked with General lattice which provided computational design services, DyeMansion for color and finishing, and EOS for additive manufacturing.
Take a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the prototype basketball above and catch a recap of the ball’s action debut below. More details can be found on the Wilson website.
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