3D Printed Basketball: The Future of Basketball with 3D Printing

3D printing's sports potential spans prostheses for exercise and high-performance gear. Wilson introduced a groundbreaking 'Wilson Airless Prototype,' a 3D printed basketball that requires no inflation. It's not yet NBA-regulation-ready, but it made a Slam Dunk contest appearance. Featuring a hexagonal hole surface, the design allows air to move in and out.Now, let's delve into this further.

3d printed basketball

Part 1: What is 3D Printed Basketball?

A 3D printed basketball is a basketball created using 3D printing technology, a process that builds an object layer by layer. Unlike traditional basketballs, these 3D printed basketballs don't rely on a bladder filled with pressurized air to maintain their shape and bounce.

Instead, they are constructed with a lattice structure consisting of numerous hexagonal holes. This innovative design eliminates the need for inflation, ensuring the ball never goes flat. Despite their unconventional appearance, these 3D printed basketballs deliver consistent bounce characteristics and offer a unique approach to basketball design and production.

wilson 3d printed basketball

Part 2: 3D Printing the Airless Prototype Basketball

General Lattice's enterprise solutions service, GL Labs, collaborated closely with Wilson to convert an initial concept into a practical manufacturing product. Their computational design tools and workflows streamlined the design and iteration process efficiently. Nick Florek, CEO of General Lattice, praised GL Labs' flexibility in data integration during the design process.

In 2021, General Lattice announced its expansion plans in the U.S. after raising $1 million in a pre-seed funding round. The company aimed to use these funds to enhance lattice-related R&D initiatives and expand its U.S. client base. The collaboration with Wilson reflects their ongoing efforts to broaden their commercial presence nationwide.

The Airless Prototype Basketball was 3D printed using an EOS P 396 SLS 3D printer. DyeMansion applied DeepDye Coloring and VaporFuse Surfacing technologies for the finishing touches, resulting in a smooth and aesthetically pleasing outer surface. The basketball features a unique sea-through black lattice structure with eight panel-like lobes, eliminating the need for inflation. Lester Hitch, Application Consultant at DyeMansion North America, emphasized the significance of redesigning this critical sporting element.

3d print basketball

Bonus: The Impact of 3D Printing on Sports Performance and Innovation

In 2021, the sports industry embraced additive technology. Adidas partnered with Carbon to create the 3D printed 4DFWD midsole, boosting running performance. This high-tech midsole demonstrated remarkable forward motion capabilities in tests. Adidas further collaborated with Marcolin Group to launch 3D CMPT sport glasses, blending style and function.

Meanwhile, DQBD and Stratasys utilized their H350 3D printer to craft personalized cycling saddles, drastically reducing lead times and costs. Sebastasin Hess, CEO at DQBD, highlighted the unique personalization opportunities additive manufacturing offers, making it a game-changer in product design and production. The sports industry continues to lead the way in 3D printing innovation, proving that the possibilities are boundless. Keep in mind that 3D printing can not only print basketballs, but also shoes , houses, and even guns, further demonstrating the profound impact this technology has across various fields.


In conclusion, the evolution of 3D printing technology has made a significant impact on the sports industry. The creation of the airless basketball by Wilson exemplifies the innovative potential of additive manufacturing in sports equipment. This technology not only ensures that athletes have access to reliable and long-lasting equipment but also pushes the boundaries of traditional design and manufacturing.

If you're inspired by these advancements in 3D printing and eager to explore its endless possibilities, look no further than Creality's exceptional range of 3D printing products. Creality has been at the forefront of the 3D printing industry, offering a wide array of printers, filaments, and accessories for both beginners and experts. Whether you're interested in designing your own sports equipment or venturing into the world of personalized creations, Creality's cutting-edge 3D printing solutions can help turn your ideas into reality.

3D Printed Basketball: The Future of Basketball with 3D Printing
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