The average age of a vehicle on the road in the U.S. is now nearing 12 years, and on average those cars require less maintenance than in previous decades. Advancements in vehicle design mean that car owners replace things like brake pads and spark plugs a lot less often than they used to.
Tires, however, still wear out pretty frequently depending on the type of vehicle and how it’s driven.
Tire giant Michelin has unveiled a new Visionary Concept 3D printed tire that could last for many years that relies on 3D-printed treads rather than air. The company displayed the tire at the Movin’On exhibition in Montreal.
The tire is printed in a honeycomb pattern. Sensors in the tire monitor the tread. When it gets too low, drivers can have new tread printed for the tire – even specific treads for different terrains, driving styles or weather. Drivers can monitor tire condition via a mobile app.
According to Michelin:
“With the aid of 3D printers, it is possible to use just the right amount of rubber on the tire and thus extend its life depending on needs, thereby ensuring mobility in all situations. The tread design is optimized and its depth is reduced in order to reduce its thickness and make the tire more efficient in terms of materials. The tread design is adapted, in accordance with the user’s mobility needs, with a triple concern for comfort, safety and sustainability.”
Because there is no air, the tire can never go flat or lose pressure, even if it is punctured. The tire is printed using biodegradable materials (natural rubber, bamboo, wood, plastic waste, tire chips, cloth, molasses metals, orange zest, and more), and the wheel is also made of recyclable material. When the tire does finally wear out, it can be recycled as well.
The company already offers one type of airless tire – the Tweel – but it is not 3D printed. If you’re wondering what can be done with all those old, non-3D-printed tires if this concept takes off, Emerging Objects has come up with a way to use recycled tires as 3D printing material to create furniture and building panels.
Source: Digital Trends