Michelin, the internationally renowned tire manufacturers, have unveiled a futuristic and fully biodegradable tire made on a 3D printer.
The Visionary Concept prototype 3D Printed tire, their newest product, was first revealed at the Movin’ On mobility summit in Montreal. It fuses the wheel and the tire into a single puncture proof item. The design features a honeycomb structure inspired by models of growth processes in the natural world that Michelin claims is airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic.
The tire tread is said to match the performance of traditional tread but is made from recycled and fully recyclable material instead. These include natural rubber, bamboo, paper, tin cans, wood, electronic and plastic waste, hay, tire chips, used metals, cloth, cardboard, molasses and orange zest. The new tire is completely biodegradable and can be recycled at the end of its life. Michelin claims the tires could last as long as the vehicle itself.
Indeed, this technology could feed into the circular economy in which we keep resources for as long as possible and then regenerate products and materials at the end of a products life, helping to protect the planet’s resources.
The airless design of the tire ensure safety unlike regular tires which are known to blowout, puncture or explode. Additionally, Michelin claims the design uses an interior architecture to support the vehicle while also providing comfort and safety.
And if that is not enough, the tires will be able to communicate with the vehicle. If there is a change in road conditions or a wearing down of the tread, information can be sent to an embedded app that will inform the driver. The technology will recommend a tread, printing program so the driver never has to leave the vehicle. The new tread can be printed and used within minutes, to the exact requirements of the tire so that no excess material is used or wasted. Michelin envisions drivers being able to stop off at a 3D printing station and quickly getting the customized tread needed for their journey.
However, Michelin’s new tires are still a long way from being in store. Gettys, the Executive Vice President for research and development has says it will be at least 10 years before the tire is brought to the market but added, “It’s a very realistic dream. All the components are current research initiatives at Michelin.”