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Michelin Are Literally Re-inventing The Wheel With Their 3D Printed Tires!

Airless, intelligent, eco-friendly, and renewable: these are Michelin’s 3D printed tires of the future

Updated August 22, 2018

Introducing the “Visionary” concept tire: a 3D printed tire that features eco-friendly materials, a unique design process and cutting edge technology. It’s anything but conventional, but it could be the tire of the future. New developments in the tire industry might not appear to be the most exciting news stories of the day, but if you’re not interested in the quality of your tires, you’d better retire your vehicle right now. Because you’re obviously not taking it seriously enough!

3D Printed Wheels 1

The right tires and tread go a long way, and since tire management can be a pain, replacing them a chore, and disposing of them properly is almost impossible, the big rubber manufacturers have been bombarding us with new innovations in the wheel and rubber department. This one from Michelin looks like it could be real winner though. Obviously in the future though.

3D Printed Wheels 2

The Visionary tire concept would be built with “bio-sourced” and “bio-degradable” materials (which would get the thumbs up from those in charge), does away with conventional rims (which may help to keep overall vehicle weight down), and is an airless but connected unit that can be “evolved” to suit your driving conditions. Sounds strange, right? That’s probably because it is strange. According to Michelin, what we have here is an “organic” tire which is almost a living thing in its own right. You can even talk to it via an app, apparently.

3D Printed Wheels 3

Naturally, this is only a concept – but it’s not too far-fetched of an idea to take off in the near future. It’s probably a fair few years off, but it’s one of the more viable concepts we’ve seen emerging from the rubber industry. But here’s what Michelin have to say about their bold concept:

The Michelin “Visionary” 3D Printed Tire Concept

Think of it as a combination of three parts:

1) First, a wheel with no air, designed to last as long as the vehicle. Its ultra-durability comes from its honeycomb structure, which is inspired by natural models (we call it generative design: a form that mimics the natural growth process at work in the plant, mineral or sometimes even animal world, such as in corals, for example). It is made of recycled materials and it is fully recyclable.

2) Next, a tread with a very distinctive feature: it can be “replenished” by a 3D printer. The material used, which draws on cold cure technology, delivers the same performances as a conventional tread. But with one notable difference: it is completely biodegradable. And what is the advantage of this? Maybe your tire’s tread is worn or maybe your road conditions have changed (you’re driving off-road or in rain, snow, heat, etc.), but you can print the tread you need in a matter of minutes! What’s more, 3D printing is an additive technology, which means that it adds just the quantity of material that is necessary, where it is necessary, with no waste or loss.

3) Lastly, MICHELIN Visionary Concept is connected: it communicates with your vehicle and your vehicle communicates with it. Without getting out of your car or even leaving your home, you can be informed of the wear on your tread and program a tread reprint, choosing the type of tread pattern you need at that particular time for your intended tire use, or simply following the suggestion made by the embedded app, which detects your requirements.

Now, all Michelin have to do is move this crazy concept of 3D printed tires into production and we’ll throw our money at them.

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Joe Appleton
About Joe Appleton

I’ve done a bit of work here and there in the industry – I’ve even ridden a few bikes for actual money but what it comes down to is this: I ride bikes, build bikes and occasionally crash ‘em too. I like what I like but that certainly doesn’t make my opinion any more valid than yours…

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