Back in 2007, we were excited to talk about Michelin’s new XDA5 tire, which incorporated multidimensional treads that would reveal new grooves and blocks as the tire wore down. It was an innovative design that dramatically expanding the lifespan of Class 8 tires. Ten years later, we’re again exploring tire innovations, and Michelin is still there at the front of the pack, this time with a 3D-printed, airless prototype tire. Say hello to the VISION tire.
Made of organic, biodegradable materials, the VISION is a strong but sponge-like structure — with a design that resembles a combination of coral reefs, honeycombs, and spiderwebs — molded into an entire wheel. Because it is airless, the VISION will never blow out and never need to be replaced. If damages or natural wear-down do happen, you simply re-print that layer or section. The 3d-printing aspect also means that the wheel is adaptable; you could print treads for any terrain or season.
Michelin also intends to include sensory chips into VISION tires, which would collect information about tire use and make recommendations for printing improvements. And when you’re done with the tire — which could be never, considering that it will never blow out and is easy to repair or adapt — you don’t have to bad about throwing it out, since VISION tires are eco-friendly and biodegradable.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to buy the VISION tire anytime soon. Many of its features will be available in the next 5 to 10 years, but the total invention will take closer to 20 years to finish research and testing before hitting the market. Until, then, keep checking your tires and changing them out every few years as needed.
And who knows, other tire innovations may come out sooner!! An article on Tire Buyer’s blog, which you can read here, describes a number of futuristic tire inventions on their way, from self-inflating tires to tires that change color when they need to be replaced. But if you’re still thinking about that VISION tire, check out Engadet’s preview video of the Michelin 3D-printed airless tire here!!