01 November, 2022
21 May, 2023
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The 3D-printed trophy that gamers painted: How Youth BCL silverware broke new ground

BURSA (Turkey) - The inaugural edition of the Youth Basketball Champions League managed to turn heads around Europe with the high level of play on the court, but also because it achieved the unprecedented - for the U18 age category - feat of creating a unique, instantly recognizable identity for a new-born competition.

The enormous organizational savvy of the host club, Tofas Bursa, as well as the fresh social media coverage and innovative branding approach were major components of that accomplishment, but the pinnacle of every sporting competition, regardless of age group, is the moment a champion is crowned.

There can be no coronation without a trophy, and the Youth BCL trophy had to be the element that tied all this unique concept together, the final touch in a ground-breaking recipe.

What can be more ground-breaking than 3D-printing this crucial element and then turning to a gaming community to find the right paint?

The Youth BCL trophy designer and manufacturer, Radiant Productions, started off by scanning in detail the original BCL trophy to produce a 3D-print ready computer graphics model of the surface.

The printing process lasted approximately two days, following the same steps that are often used in the car-making industry for intricate parts.

Once printed, the model was smoothed down before coating in copper, which added weight and a metallic feel. It was then nickel-plated to give the silver shine to the inner surfaces.

As the outside of the trophy was black, Radiant masked off the inner silver surfaces to spray them in a special black lacquer that bonds to nickel. After baking the trophy for several hours, they carefully applied by hand the silver lettering, graffiti and painted emblem.

The trophy was then gently baked again for a whole day. And that's when the really tricky part started.

"One of the more challenging parts of the process was matching the emblem paint colours on the front of the trophy to the brand colours of the competition," explained Richard Wallman, Managing Director at Radiant Productions.

"The hunt for small pots of paint led me one night to a subterranean gaming room in central London where maybe a hundred enthusiasts were gathered for games against the clock.

"Many of the gamers are experts in modelling and painting the miniature figures used in the game, so they were keen to help when shown the graffiti-styled trophy images.

"Armed with little pantone swatches of yellow and turquoise, I was soon being ushered through huge ranges of paints and emerged a couple of hours later with the exact colours I needed," he concluded.

The only thing that remains to be seen is which team will become the first rightful recipient of this youthful trophy that resembles a piece of art. We will find out on Saturday evening, as hosts Tofas Bursa take on Igokea in the Final of the tournament.