When Spalding introduced its Infusion basketball with a built-in pump in 2001, it became one of the company’s most successful innovations. It helped turn the basketball into a household name, selling five times as many balls as expected.
The company’s latest innovation, Never flat, builds on that success and takes a big step toward the future of basketball. But will it be a repeat performer?
Spalding is a sporting goods company that has led the charge in many product categories. Whether it’s a golf ball or a basketball, the brand is known for creating technological breakthroughs that set new standards in their respective sports.
For instance, the company was the first to develop a composite leather cover that provides better durability and a more comfortable feel compared to traditional leather. In addition, the company was also the first to produce a basketball with a built-in pump.
The micro-pump is located on the top of the ball, and it can add air at a rate of one pound per minute. The ball can be inflated from a distance of more than 20 feet, according to the company, making it an ideal choice for recreational and professional players alike.
In addition to the pump, the Infusion basketball also has a few other unique features, including a built-in needle and an air release button. Touhey said that in the 20 months since the Infusion was launched, the company has spent more than $1 million to research and develop the technology.
Originally developed in 20 months, the Infusion basketball has been one of Spalding’s most successful product lines ever. The NBA has endorsed the ball, and it’s a mainstay in pickup and organized basketball leagues across the country.
It’s the first and only basketball with a built-in micro-pump that can be accessed with a finger or a coin. The pump adds about one pound of air per minute. It also locks firmly in place, so players won’t accidentally twist off and lose the feature.
Aside from the original built-in pump, Infusion basketballs feature a removable plug to block air leakage from the ball’s rubber valve, and a specialized design that reduces the amount of grit that can get into the bladder, thus boosting air retention. Other features include a solid lining inside the bladder that prevents vaporization, and a textured surface to reduce the risk of air loss from a player’s hands.
The new Infusion basketball is an effort to combat one of the most frequent complaints about inflated sports balls: under-inflation. According to research by Spalding, more than 40 percent of consumers say they’ve experienced under-inflation on a ball at some point during a game.
For that reason, Spalding spent considerable money to develop the Infusion basketball with a built-in pump. They hoped the added functionality would make the product less of a novelty and more of a necessity.
After the Infusion ball’s initial success, Spalding executives became convinced that innovations could pay off in even once-staid product categories such as inflatable balls. So the company beefed up its internal market research and R&D capabilities.
It was a wise move, because the company’s market share doubled after Infusion launched, and the product is still selling very well, generating nearly $20 million in sales this year. It’s a testament to the hard work and innovation that went into the ball’s development, as well as the brand’s leadership in sports goods.
When Spalding introduced its Infusion basketball with built-in pump in 2001, it sparked an explosion of sales and became one of the biggest innovations ever to hit the sports market. The invention was hailed by players and referees as the single most important innovation to the game of basketball in a long time.
Infusion basketballs incorporated a revolutionary Micro Pump, which allows the user to add or release air by simply pressing and holding the small button on the ball. The pump can be found on high-end basketballs featuring composite covers, as well as economical rubber models. The ball also features a traditional valve, located directly opposite the Infusion pump, to counterbalance it and allow balls that are entirely flat to be inflated more efficiently.
The Infusion pump paved the way for other innovations from Spalding, such as its Neverflat line of basketballs, which utilize exclusive full-ball construction technologies to dramatically increase pressure retention. In addition, proprietary NitroFlate molecules are injected into the ball to eliminate air seepage and leakage.
Touhey says that when Spalding developed the Infusion pump, it did extensive research and tested numerous materials. It was determined that a soft, flexible membrane would provide the best combination of durability and comfort while keeping the ball inflated.
That membrane tightens the natural pores in the basketball’s bladder to improve pressure retention and eliminate air seepage. Then Primo, a gaseous concoction company, blended large and small nitrogen molecules into the Neverflat concoction, jamming up exits around the basketball’s inner membrane’s pores.
This process effectively tightens the membrane and eliminates air seepage, which allows the Neverflat to maintain a consistent and predictable level of pressure. The Neverflat basketball is the first inflated sport to feature this unique technology.
The Spalding Infusion basketball, which is a bit more than a year old now, was a technological marvel at the time it debuted and still remains one of the top-selling balls in the world. The ball is a bit more expensive than your average basketball, but it makes up for it with an innovative design.
The gizmo has an airtight cylinder that houses a small pump that adds and releases air to the ball at a rate of 1 pound per minute. This is a big deal because it means that you don’t need a tire pump or a needle to make your hoop move, which is a huge time saver for players and referees alike.
What’s more, the gizmo doesn’t require a lot of maintenance or frequent replacement. In fact, it will last for more than a decade with little to no attention at all.
The Spalding Infusion was a major leap forward in sports technology that the company has taken great pains to protect by offering an extensive patent portfolio. The company also boasts a large R&D team dedicated to identifying and pursuing new product innovations. The Infusion is the crown jewel of the Spalding line and represents 40 percent of the company’s sales. It’s not just the best ball you can buy, but the most impressive innovation to hit the market in a long time.