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The Wilson Airless Gen1 reportedly nearly matches the performance specs of a regulation basketball, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Norbert Sparrow

February 14, 2024

2 Min Read
Wilson Airless Gen1 basketball
Image courtesy of Wilson Sporting Goods

The wait is over: Wilson Sporting Goods’ 3D-printed airless basketball goes on sale on Feb. 16. At a purchase price of $2,500 for the limited edition, though, it begs the question — who exactly is waiting for it?

Wilson said in the news release that the success of the airless prototype, which debuted last year, prompted the introduction of the Wilson Airless Gen1 this month.

"We were overwhelmed by the excitement from our Airless Prototype, and we knew it was time to bring this rare, first-of-its kind innovation to the world," said Kevin Murphy, general manager of Team Sports at Wilson, in a prepared statement. "Wilson has gone where no brand has gone before with the release of the Airless Gen1 basketball, further inspiring the next generation of sports innovation."

The Wilson Airless Gen1 reportedly comes very close to matching the performance specs of a regulation basketball, including its weight, size, and bounce.

The main updates to the Wilson Airless Gen1 since the prototype was developed include:

  • An improved lattice design for more consistent performance and bounce. The ball still has the same see-through lattice with eight panel-like "lobes,” adds Wilson.

  • Holes integrated within the channels to accelerate the manufacturing process, making it faster to create each ball.

  • A built-in label in each ball for customization with the exact, limited number in which it was produced.

  • In addition to the recognizable jet-black color of the prototype, the Airless Gen1 will also be available in brown and natural white.

Key partners in the project included General Lattice providing computational design services, DyeMansion supplying color and finishing solutions, EOS bringing technical oversight and a roadmap for mass production, and SNL Creative, the primary manufacturing hub for this first launch.

While it’s an interesting technical achievement — and a marketing slam dunk, clearly, since we’re talking about it — the practical effect will be limited, according to 3D-printing authority and business consultancy Wohlers Associates. “The balls are made using polymer powder bed fusion (PBF) systems from EOS,” it writes. “While Wilson is to be commended for bringing this innovation to market, it is expected to have a limited practical effect. The ball will sell for $2,500, meaning that relatively few will be bought by well-heeled aficionados of the sport. The high cost is driven by the size of the ball, coupled with print speed. Also, few balls can be printed at one time.”

Limited units of the Wilson Airless Gen1 will be available exclusively on Wilson.com beginning Friday, Feb. 16.

About the Author(s)

Norbert Sparrow

Editor in chief of PlasticsToday since 2015, Norbert Sparrow has more than 30 years of editorial experience in business-to-business media. He studied journalism at the Centre Universitaire d'Etudes du Journalisme in Strasbourg, France, where he earned a master's degree.

www.linkedin.com/in/norbertsparrow

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