A few years ago, Michelin introduced the airless tires Tweels that awed most of the world. Flat tires are a disaster and Michelin wants to save you from those. Now the company has come with the brilliant new 3D printed Vision Concept that is a wheel and tire in one and Michelin says it is “airless, connected, rechargeable, customizable and organic.”
The Tweel Vision Concept is 3D printed using bio-sourced materials including natural rubber, bamboo, paper, tin cans, wood, electronic and plastic waste, hay, tire chips, used metals, cloth, cardboard, molasses, and orange zest. Inspired by the corals, the internal architecture of the tire resembles natural cellular structures of the coral.
The Tweel is hard at the center, but gradually gets softer towards the edges, so the tire never flattens or explodes. The minimal depth design of Tweel makes sure the materials are most efficiently utilized.
Going airless or having the tires 3D printed may not be exciting enough, so the makers have imparted the Vision concept tires with the ability to recharge themselves. Sensors embedded in the tire keep track of the wear and tear and report to the users through a mobile app. The owner can then choose to recharge their tires or have it updated using 3D printers.
There are no plans for the mass production of the Vision concept but the Head of global innovation at Michelin, Terry Getty commented, “You might be thinking, ‘well, that’s a dream, and you’d be right. It is a dream. It’s a long-term concept which brings together our vision of all the elements of sustainable mobility.”
Considering the fact that all the components of the Vision concept have already been established, we can hope to see the Tweel in the market in about 10 years. The success of the Michelin Tweels based on the rubber treads that need not be inflated, the Vision Tweels are expected to be as big a success.