Imagine a car tire that is completely made out of recycled materials, is 3D printed, puncture-proof because of the lack of air pressure, will last as long or even longer that the complete life of your car, and at the end of its life can be completely recycled. Sounds very futuristic right? Well, that is exactly what the Michelin Vionary Concept tire hopes to achieve.
Michelin is a french tire manufacturer headquartered in Clermont Ferrand France. Michelin is one of the four largest tire manufacturers in the world along with Goodyear, Bridgestone, and Continental. At the Movin’On exhibition in Montreal, Michelin showed off a concept of its futuristic 3D printed car tire, which looks like it was pulled out of an alien movie. The 3D printed tire was born out of a vision for a circular economy where protecting the planet’s resources would be the center of attention, therefore the tire would be made from recycled materials that won’t leave a negative impact on the environment.
What is the MICHELIN Visionary Concept?
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.”
Like any visionary concept, there is no garantee that Michelin’s visionary concept 3D printed tire will make it to market, but it truly would be interesting to see this tire in action.
Executive VP of Research and Development at Michelin Terry Gettys, commented that we’ll have to wait at least 10 years before we see the futuristic tire manufactured and ready to be sold, so we’ll just have to wait and see.