Michelin unveil 'rechargeable', airless, 3D-printed tyre
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Airless design comes wrapped in 'rechargeable' 3D-printed treads
Cars of the future could be equipped with 3D printed smart tyres that can tell you when they need changing, if a concept unveiled by Michelin becomes a reality.
The Vision project created an all-in-one tyre and wheel made from biodegradable materials, coated in rubber tread that can be topped up when the tyre wears down.
The tyre's airless design, which is inspired by nature, would also make them impervious to flats and blowouts.
The French firm unveiled the unique design at the 2017 Movin' On conference being held in Montreal this week.
The inner design of the tyre is modelled on nature, using a honeycomb-like structure to give it strength.
This alveolar pattern, similar to the air sacks in the human lung, uses a rigid centre which branches out to thousands of increasingly larger chambers.
It is 3D printed from recycled organic materials, including wood chips, straw, sugar byproducts, and orange peels.
This is covered in a thin layer of rubber which makes up the tyre's tread.
Its creators envision the tyre being rechargeable so that when the rubber tread wears down, customers can book in a top up printed layer of rubber tread.
They could even alter the tread based on the climate, perhaps by printing a winter pattern when going on a ski trip.
Onboard sensors will monitor real time information about the tyre's condition and notify you when they need redoing.
All of these features could be controlled through a specially coded Print & Go app.
Michelin hasn't given a time frame for the concept's development or commercial release.
But Mostapha El-Oulhani, the designer who headed the project, said the tyre is 'a promise that is within reach'.
Writing in a press statement, he added: 'Given how we developed it, the Vision concept tire is a showcase of our expertise as well as a promise of the future.
'We wanted the Vision to be realistic since no purpose is served by designing objects or services that we know pertinently are unrealistic.
'On the contrary, Vision is possible since it is based on R&D know-how and we can already see the future applications, on which the Group is now working.'