Jun 15, 2017 | By Benedict

French tire manufacturer Michelin has unveiled a concept 3D printed tire that could theoretically last the entire lifespan of a car. The airless tire features a biomimetic structure, and could have its tread re-printed to suit changing weather conditions.

While we’ve got a lot of time for 3D printed concept cars (and car parts), there’s a fine line between the sublime and the ridiculous. Admirable as it was, and although it was supposed to represent a vision of the long-term future, Goodyear’s 3D printed spherical tire just felt a little silly.

Fortunately, tire king Michelin’s latest concept at least looks like a tire, and should satisfy the more cynical drivers and drifters among us. The tire, dubbed the “Michelin Visionary Concept,” is a puncture-proof, airless, 3D printed tire made of recycled materials and which can be recycled at the end of its life. It even has a re-printable tread, so the bulk of the tire never needs to be changed.

“Because we believe that mobility is essential for human development, we innovate passionately to make it safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly,” Michelin says. Does that mean the Clermont-Ferrand-based company is actually taking this thing further than the prototype stage? Maybe not, but the concept suggests that its R&D teams are at least playing with the idea of using additive manufacturing.

And if Michelin is to be believed, additive manufacturing could do some pretty amazing things for car tires—someday, at least. The company’s Visionary Concept tire features a biomimetic structure, “as if it had been created by nature,” as well as a tread that instantly adjusts to driving conditions by 3D printing a new external surface. (Whether this “replenishing” 3D printer would be packed onboard the vehicle or kept in a garage has not been specified.)

Regarding the tire’s internal structure, Michelin certainly seems to have done its homework. The biomimetic structure of the Visionary Concept takes the form of repeating honeycomb shapes, seen by many as a near-perfect infill pattern for achieving maximum strength.

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.

“Imagine that you don't have to worry any more about keeping your loved ones safe when you travel, because road conditions and bad weather don't matter any more,” Michelin says. “Your tread instantly adjusts to your driving conditions, whenever necessary, using just the right amount of materials. A tread that can be modified and replenished at will, without wasting any resources, time or money, and which protects the environment for the generations to come.”

A prototype of the Michelin Visionary Concept was unveiled on the Michelin stand at Movin’On, the international summit on sustainable mobility, in Montreal (June 13 to 15). The Canadian Grand Prix took place in Montreal days earlier, resulting in a first place finish for Mercedes’ British driver Lewis Hamilton.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Tubby Tires wrote at 6/15/2017 5:15:54 PM:

Pot hole 1 - Michelin 0 That wheel wouldn't remain round on our roads. Unless the expected life of a car is now 12 months or less.

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