Tires are critically important components of the land based vehicles which make use of them. Without tires, you would not be able to move effectively on the surface you are traveling on. You would be going nowhere fast!
No matter what amazing features your vehicle has, if the tires are poor, your driving experience will be severely compromised. For this reason, tire companies invest a lot of effort into making tires which provide the best experience for drivers so that they can travel safely and comfortably.
Michelin is no exception. Their dedication to improving tire technology was recently demonstrated at their recently held Movin’ On international summit for sustainable mobility in Montréal, Québec, Canada. They introduced a connected tire concept, made from biodegradable materials which does not require inflation!
Michelin pointed out that their concept tire is a combination of their current technical knowledge and knowledge of current technologies in order to present a proposed product which is actually possible to produce.
Michelin’s Connected Tire Concept
One of the most striking things about Michelin’s tire concept is that it is made using biodegradable materials. The tire is also a combination of a wheel and tire.
With Michelin’s concept tire, codenamed VISION, you get everything in one unit. The tire has a design which resembles coral. It has a solid center and the threading is added on the outside.
Materials such as straw, wood chips, sugar byproducts and orange peels are used to create the tire threading. Using these materials, Michelin can make synthetic butadiene.
Butadiene is a major component necessary for the production of synthetic rubber
Michelin’s tires can be 3D printed on-demand which means that they can be printed specifically for the end user’s needs. In addition to being convenient, on demand 3D tire printing, reduces material wastage.
This also means that the tires can easily be adjusted for the different seasons as well as for different usage conditions.
Imagine that it is now going into winter in your location. With Michelin’s tire concept, you could have your tires adjusted for winter conditions. How about if you have a sports car and want to take it to the track?
Again, you can have your tires adjusted for this with high-performance threading. Check out the images below to get an idea of how tire patterns can vary based on the intended application of the tire.
Michelin World Rally Championship Asphalt Tire | Michelin
Michelin World Rally Championship Snow Tire | Michelin
These tires are also airless which means low maintenance. This is facilitated by the tires alveolar design which provides strength and stability without the risk of having a tire blowout.
Alveolar design refers to the kind of structure with strategically placed gaps as pictured above. The term is derived from alveoli which are the parts of lungs which contain air.
To add to the list of impressive traits, VISION is also capable of providing real time information about its condition. This means that you can quickly find out when it’s time to re-thread your tires. Communication will be facilitated through a mobile application which also allows for making appointments to alter the tire threads.
Although bringing this tire to market is still a dream at the moment, it certainly seems possible. The materials to make the tire can be easily sourced and the 3D printing technology already exists.
The challenge will most likely come in the implementation or real time monitoring and on-demand 3D printing to be honest. I can also see the setup of the sensors for real time monitoring being tricky but not impossible.
As for the 3D-printing of tire threads, service centers will probably need to be setup which can carry out the printing capabilities, making it easy for consumers to quickly make the desired changes. If you want to get fancy, maybe Michelin could even offer home tire-printing kits for those who want more control over the process.
Durability testing will also be necessary and it will be interesting to see if these tires can stand up to the rigors that tires currently available on the market can or even surpass them.
Overall, this is quite the intriguing concept and it will be awesome to see how it develops as time passes. Please take a look at the demo video below to get a better idea of what the tire has to offer.