Despite that old expression of “you don’t need to reinvent the wheel,” Michelin has proved this week that there’s still plenty of ground to play with the future of wheel design…and tires, too.
Introduced at the company’s annual Movin’On conference in Montreal, the new Vision concept tire is a one-piece 3D printed wheel-and-tire design that the company claims is “airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic.”
…Not usually words you think about when you think about wheels and tires. So what’s the deal?
From a user experience standpoint, the ‘rechargeable’ aspect is actually quite compelling. The company believes that automobiles in the future could pull over and 3D print a new tire depending on road conditions—particularly if one is going to be heading from the city up to an icy mountain pass:
To minimize environmental impact, the 3D printed tire concept is made from organically-sourced biodegradable materials including waste products such as tire chips and electronic waste. The tread design itself is a fine case study in generative design—created in such a way that the interior architecture can support the weight of an automobile while remaining airless. According to Michelin’s executive vice president of R&D, this tread is inspired “Nature with a very light, efficient structure.”
To top it all off, the company imagines each tire being ‘connected’ to provide real-time information about its condition and to integrate with innovative services.
No word yet on how the tire performs during burnouts on a 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.