University of Wisconsin-Madison mechanical engineering graduate students Eric Foltz (left) and Nick Newman (right), along with faculty adviser Tim Osswald (center), look through the honeycomb pattern of an early prototype of a non-pneumatic tire they help
Eric Foltz (left) and Nick Newman look through the honeycomb pattern of an early prototype of a non-pneumatic tire. Foltz, Newman and Osswald (not pictured), worked with Resilient Technologies to design and develop the airless vehicle tire for military us
Molds and the resulting design for an early prototype of a non-pneumatic tire
UPDATED November 20, 2008 One of the more fascinating developments in the history of the automotive tire is the modern concept of the airless tire. Dunlop produced the first pneumatic tire for bicycles in 1888 and Michelin did likewise for cars in 1895, and for the last century, pneumatic tires have ruled. Michelin announced its airless Tweel technology three years ago (Gizmag’s biggest story ever with more than a million page views) and won the Intermat Gold Medal for Innovation in 2006, though we have yet to see a commercially available automotive product from the French giant. Now a new airless tire using a flexible, honeycomb-like internal structure could again prove to be a disruptive technology in one of the world’s largest industries. With development funded by the U.S. DoD, the initial aim of the project was to replace the Achilles heel of the military vehicle, but now the technology looks like going commercial for the rest of us.
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