Michelin unveils airless 3D-printed smart tires

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smart tires

French tire manufacturer Michelin has unveiled the new 3D tire concept, the Vision. This concept tire, which is airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic, is both a wheel and a tire.

The 3D printed prototype doesn’t need inflated. The Visionary Concept tire uses a honeycomb pattern based on generative design models found in nature, such as coral and the air sacs in human lungs. This design diminishes the risk of a blowout or flats due to punctures.

While, traditional rubber tires gradually lose their tread as a result of friction. This prototype uses 3D printers to replenish the tread as needed.

A series of sensors built into the tire monitor the tread wear and provide real-time information about performance and maintenance.

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The new 3D printed treads can be smart to an array of settings to compensate for seasonal weather, most rugged terrains, and even different driving styles.

The physical structure of the tire isn’t everything though. Michelin has also outlined plans for a fully connected digital system in which an onboard app would identify the current state of the tire’s tread, pick up on weather conditions, and make automatic adjustments.

bio-sourced and biodegradable materials

The new 3D tire also made from bio-sourced and biodegradable materials, including natural rubber, bamboo, paper, tin cans, wood, and plastic. Michelin also minimized the amount of rubber in each of these “organic” tires to further reduce the overall environmental impact.

The entire wheel produced from recyclable materials, which means once the tire has reached the end of its life, the tire itself will also be recyclable.

However, this tire is still just a prototype, it looks like we’ll have to deal with our wildly inefficient, archaic, pressurized rubber tires for the time being. Michelin’s Executive VP of Research and Development, Terry Gettys, believes it will be at least another 10 years before the finalized Visionary Concept tire reaches the market.

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