Is “normal” basketball a thing of the past?

The US sporting goods manufacturer Wilson has developed a basketball without a closed cover. It only consists of holes, so to speak, and therefore never has to be pumped up.

Is “normal” basketball a thing of the past? (Image: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports)

The US sporting goods manufacturer Wilson has introduced a new basketball. It is printed in one piece from a special polymer and never needs to be inflated.

Airless prototype

Wilson has developed a basketball that, unlike ordinary models, does not consist of a closed shell. Instead, the ball is formed from a lattice structure – it consists of nothing but hexagonal holes, so to speak.

That means it never has to be pumped up. Its shape is not created by air being pumped into it. Instead, its material, which WILL be 3D printed in one piece into a ball, is what gives it its shape. This is what Wilson called the basketball “Airless Prototype”.

Weight and behavior so be comparable

The sporting goods manufacturer writes on its website: “In order to revolutionize the game, you have to rethink everything you already know. So we took an aspect of basketball that everyone takes for granted – and removed it from the equation.”

For this, Wilson has developed a particularly elastic plastic that gives the prototype its typical behavior. The promise: The ball can be dribbled and thrown just like a conventional model. The weight is also the same. And yet there is one crucial difference: There WILL never again be problems with the correct hardness or that the ball loses air during play and has to be pumped up again and again.

rebound without air pressure?

According to the online magazine deceen Was that the default by Wilson? The responsible developer Nadine Lippa says in an interview: “My task was to reinvent basketball. We quickly identified the problem that unwanted balls would eventually go flat.” That’s why they wanted to develop an airless ball that didn’t need a pump or needle. “Now it’s just a ball. That’s all you need to go out and play,” she says.

During development, Lippa and her team were faced with problems, above all, with the bounce of conventional balls. She says: “One of the biggest challenges of the project was finding a material that would bounce to the expected height with no air contained. Inflated balls use their air pressure for rebound.”

Also possible for other sports?

How golem reports, Wilson has teamed up with German printing company Electro Optical Systems for the project. The company from Krailling near Munich is familiar with custom-made products. For example, it prints parts for various industries, such as aviation, the automotive industry or medical technology.

The ball can also be seen in action in image videos. At first glance, it actually behaves like an ordinary basketball. But Wilson also writes that the development is not yet mature. “There is still a lot to do before the ball can be used on the world’s courts,” says the website, “but we are excited about the possibilities it offers.” This also includes developing on others broadcast sports. Because Wilson is not only active in basketball, but also sells products for tennis, baseball, football and squash players.

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