The idea of airless tires is all the rage right now. From tractors and construction equipment to bicycles and cars, tire manufacturers are thinking there’s no more room for air in their tires.
At the 2017 Michelin Movin’On Sustainable Mobility Summit in Montreal, Michelin introduced its futuristic airless 3-D printed tire design for the forum’s 375th Anniversary. Like a decorative piece of coral out of an exotic fish tank, Michelin’s airless tire concept is anything but sunk. In fact, it’s just starting its journey as you read this.
Image courtesy of Michelin
This tire is made purely out of recycled materials and is 3D printed for the terrain you are encountering, making new tires and changing them completely a thing of the past. Driving from the sunny days on the coast of California to the rain of the Pacific Northwest to the mountainy winters of Colorado. In the future, all you’ll have to do is hit up a service station to have the proper tires re-printed for every condition. That’s not all; if you don’t travel — no sweat — just have your tread replenished when needed. Never get a flat or change your tires again!
No More Flat Tires
AAA reported that 1 in 5 drivers do not know how to change a tire. With Michelin’s most advanced concept tire, it could mean the end of side-of-the-road repairs and accidents due to tire failure because of improper inflation or low tread depth. The positive impact of this tire could go for mile after mile (smirk) with its approach to innovation. Tires are wearing thin, time to re-print some tread. Doesn’t that sound nice?
Environmental and Economic Impact
Did you know that in 2015, the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association reported that nearly 250 million tires were scrapped in the United States alone? With that many tires in landfills, it has been a worthwhile effort to recycle or repurpose tires rather than simply make gigantic, unmanageable piles. Not to mention, those piles are a breeding ground for mosquitoes that carry harmful diseases, can contaminate groundwater and surface water, and scrap tire fires can last for months polluting the air.
The bigger picture for Michelin is creating something more sustainable by utilizing materials that are reusable, thereby significantly reducing the environmental and economic impact that will help save energy, reduce water pollution, save trees, and reduce greenhouse gas emission. The concept of 3-D printed tires from recyclable materials would improve every facet of the negative effects tires have on the environment.
Although this is a seemingly close reality, it has a long way to go to perfection and likely exists in the distant future. When it comes to tires, what do you want to see in the future? Tell us in the comments section!