US – American sports good manufacturer Wilson has created an airless 3D-printed basketball. Official supplier of National Basketball Association (NBA) basketballs, its Airless Prototype has been created to meet NBA specifications although – unlike the official game ball – it does not contain air or use leather. A highly engineered structure of hexagonal holes gives the ball its bounce and a 3D lattice replicating the typical binding pattern of a leather ball gives it its feel.
The playability of the prototype was demonstrated by Houston Rockets’ KJ Martin in a slam dunk contest at a recent NBA All-Star game.
Wilson’s Airless Prototype was produced in collaboration with 3D design specialists General Lattice, EOS and DyeMansion, and showcases the growing potential for material innovation in sports goods. The leather industry has faced strong criticism for its practices and consumers are always eager to welcome alternatives, especially those that are pioneering and which bring sustainability to the fore.
Sports goods businesses should see consumers’ growing demands for sustainability as an opportunity to update and innovate their materials, products and processes