As the Official Basketball of the National Basketball Association (NBA), Wilson has once again proven to be one of the most innovative brands in sports—daring to do what no brand has done before. The 3D Airless Prototype Basketball was introduced on Saturday night, February 18, during the first round of the AT&T Slam Dunk Contest by Houston Rockets’ player, KJ Martin.
A first-of-its-kind breakthrough, the Airless Prototype eliminates the need to inflate the ball. Instead, it relies on a 3D-printed structure and research-grade materials to replicate the bounce of a traditional basketball. The surface of the ball consists of small hexagonal holes, allowing air to pass through freely.
Aside from a technical standpoint, the ball is revolutionary from a sustainability perspective. All inflatable balls, regardless of the sport, how or who makes them eventually go flat. The Airless Prototype is the solution to this problem. As the airless ball cannot deflate or puncture, it eliminates the need for it to be replaced as frequently.
The prototype also simplifies the supply chain as it is made from one non-leather material—compared to five materials on a regular ball. Manufacturers can print as many balls as demand dictates, as opposed to estimating and producing too many or too few. In addition, 3D printers can be scattered globally to create manufacturing satellites across continents.
There is still work to do before the product is ready for courts around the world, but the ball presents exciting opportunities for other sports and future Wilson products.
Check out the video below to learn more about the making of the Wilson Airless Prototype: