At first glance, the limited edition Airless Gen1 Basketball from Wilson looks like a unique toy, not a basketball. If you look a little closer, you can see something that resembles a traditional basketball. The only difference is that it’s hollow and has a lot of holes. Wilson calls the innovative, 3D-printed ball “the future of sport.”

Airless Gen1 Basketball

The Airless Gen1 Basketball is a limited edition and brings up an interesting concept of what balls and sports equipment will look like in the future. First, because it is 3D-printed, the Airless Gen1 doesn’t need all the materials to make a traditional basketball. Second, it doesn’t rely on air to fill it up each time the ball gets flat. But, how will the ball compare to a regular basketball? That is the question in hand.

Airless Gen1 Basketballs
Airless Gen1 Basketballs come in three different colors; Photo: Wilson

A prototype was released in 2023 and since then, Wilson added some upgrades for this special release. As stated before, there is no need to inflate this ball. The ball is designed to replicate a normal basketball’s bounce, flight, and feel. That is thanks to the Airless Gen1’s 3D-printed polymer lattice structure. The ball features eight panels, like a traditional basketball. There is a familiar seam structure that separates the eight panels on the ball. It also features hexagonal holes that allow air to pass through. The holes also allow for a faster manufacturing process.


Tech Innovation

While it doesn’t seem like any professional or amateur basketball organization will make the switch to an airless ball, it still serves as an innovative piece of technology. It appears to be a collector’s item for tech enthusiasts and those alike. However, it does fit the specifications of a regulation basketball including the bounce, size, and weight. Unfortunately, it comes with a price tag of $2,500 and Wilson already sold out of the few hundred that were made.

Airless Gen1 Basketball
Airless Gen1 Basketball has similar weight, bounce, and flight as a traditional ball; Photo: Wilson

Wilson’s Airless Gen1 Basketball is an example of sports technology. Again, will we ever see the ball used in a professional environment? Probably not. But, it is an interesting concept that shows where technology is going in sports. Take this special edition as a trial run perhaps. If they never make them again, it would be cool to say you’re the owner of a rare, tech-infused basketball. If they do eventually sell the basketballs commercially then there may be a future generation of kids playing with a 3D-printed basketball at the local courts.