Michelin launches Visionary Concept 3D-printed, biodegradable tyre

June 19, 2017

MichelinFrench tyre manufacturer Michelin has unveiled its new Visionary Concept airless tyre-and-wheel at its 2017 Movin’ On Conference on sustainable mobility in Montreal, Quebec in Canada.

Michelin’s Visionary Concept design is puncture-proof because there is no pressure as it acts as a tyre and a wheel in one. Designed to last as long as the vehicle itself, the wheel’s ultra-durability comes from its biomimetic honeycomb structure inspired by natural models the company calls “generative design”.The form mimics the natural growth process at work in plants, minerals or sometimes even in the animal world, such as in corals, for example.

It is made from organic, bio-sourced materials that are both recyclable and biodegradable, created using materials derived from wood chips, straw, sugar byproducts, and orange peels.

Its tread is also rechargeable via 3D printing, which allows it to be altered quickly for various seasons or use cases. The completely biodegradable material used, which draws on cold cure technology, delivers the same performances as a conventional tread.

“And what is the advantage of this? Maybe your tire’s tread is worn or maybe your road conditions have changed (you’re driving off-road or in rain, snow, heat, etc.), but you can print the tread you need in a matter of minutes! What’s more, 3D printing is an additive technology, which means that it adds just the quantity of material that is necessary, where it is necessary, with no waste or loss,” the company said in a statement.

The Visionary Concept tyre is also connected, equipped with sensors that provide real-time information about its condition.f“Without getting out of your car or even leaving your home, you can be informed of the wear on your tread and program a tread reprint, choosing the type of tread pattern you need at that particular time for your intended tyre use, or simply following the suggestion made by the embedded app, which detects your requirements.”

“You might be thinking, ‘well, that’s a dream,'” says Terry Gettys, Michelin’s head of global innovation. “And you’d be right. It is a dream. It’s a long-term concept which brings together our vision of all the elements of sustainable mobility.”

It’s a realistic dream, though, Gettys says, as each component of the concept is already an active research topic at Michelin.

“Because we believe that mobility is essential for human development, we innovate passionately to make it safer, more efficient and more environmentally friendly. Uncompromising quality is our commitment and our priority in serving our customers. Because we believe in personnel development for each and every one of us, we want to make it possible for everyone to give their best, and we want to make our differences an asset. We are proud of our values of respect and pull together to achieve better mobility for all.”

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