Michelin has 3D printed an airless tyre, called Vision, out of biodegradable materials. And, according to to the company, it is both a wheel and airless tire in one.
Although this proof-of-concept model will not reach cars anytime soon, it might become a part of everyday driving in the future. Apart from being a positive environmental step, the tyre will do away with a few major problems that car owners face like deflation, over inflation, punctures, and blowouts. Michelin has made this tyre as part of their "Sustainable Mobility" platform.
Vision is made of natural rubber polymers that are plant based as opposed to petroleum based like they are now. The company showed tyres based on orange zest, Engadget reported. Michelin's executive vice president of global R&D Terry Gettys also pointed out molasses as a natural material that could go into tyre production.
Michelin's executive vice president of global R&D Terry Gettys also pointed out molasses as a natural material that could go into tyre production.
While the technology is being researched, Gettys said that traditional methods of production cannot be replaced right away and that biodegradable components will be "progressively introduced".
Apart from not needing regular inflation, Vision does not require rims and wheels to attach to a vehicle as the tyre's structure is sturdy enough to hold up a car during movement, while at the same time be pliable enough to absorb bumps on roads. It will be affixed on the axle of a car through a hub connection.
Vision will reportedly have the capacity to be retreaded. Michelin claims that treads can even be swapped out based on the location or kind of road expected like when needing to change to snow and ice safe treads before winter. This is expected to happen in stalls or outlets in places like fuel stations.
Michelin's tyre also looks like it is from the future in the way it is constructed with a complex mesh like pattern with treads on the outer rim. "The look of our concept Vision is intended to be attractive," Gettys said.
Tyres in the future are also likely to have sensors for simplified fleet management and diagnostics.
Michelin has said that Vision is at least 5 to 10 years away from hitting the market for use by consumers.