Airless tire concept could change tires forever

Earlier this month in Montreal, tire manufacturer Michelin unveiled a new airless tire concept that could revolutionize the way we do anything that involves a tire. The Visionary Concept tire is an airless, 3D printed tire made from recycled biodegradable materials.

The design is a generative one, which mimics the concept from coral or human lung air sacs. This means that the tire never needs to be replaced, but rather can just have “tread” added to it by 3D printing. And since the tire is a “smart” tire, it is constantly sending usage information to a smartphone app which would allow the driver to know when the treads need to be updated.

Speaking of treads, the Visionary Concept tire also allows for easy switching between multiple tread patterns. So if you need a winter tire for going up to the mountains or an offroad tire for some backwoods driving, it’ll be as simple as the push of a button.

And since there is no air, that means the end of flat tires or being tires being punctured by nails. Plus, according to Digital Trends, the Visionary Concept tire is made of materials like natural rubber, bamboo, paper, tin cans, wood and plastic, which means it can be totally recycled after its life cycle.

The bike industry has been a bit quicker to adopt the concept of airless tires, but that’s also because a tire for a car needs to be extremely more complex than a tire for a bike. While the Visionary Concept is certainly the future, Michelin's Executive VP of Research and Development Terry Gettys told Digital Trend it would be about another decade for it to get to consumers.

Considering it could eliminate the need for replacing tires and manufacturing difficult-to-recycle ones, it’ll be worth the wait.

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