A punctured tire is the definition of a bad day, but Michelin is taking some of the sting out as it announces the opening of its newest North American plant, which the company says is the first in the world dedicated to the manufacture of airless tires called "Tweels
". The US$50 million plant will be used to make the Michelin X Tweel Airless Radial Tire and others for commercial and agricultural applications.
There’s nothing that ruins going to work like having your tires shot out with a .50 caliber machine gun round. If that happens to you a lot, and your commute is across open fields and through the woods, you might want to consider the Polaris Sportsman WV850 HO with Terrain Armor. This military-grade All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) abandons traditional inflatable tires for Non-Pneumatic Tires (NPT) that feature a flexible polymer honeycomb.
Puncture-proof tires that incorporate a flexible internal matrix instead of air are nothing new, in and of themselves. In the past several years, we’ve seen prototypes from the likes of Michelin
. Colorado-based Britek Tire and Rubber has also been developing something similar, known as the Energy Return Wheel. While the ERW is intended mainly for cars, the company recently released a video showing a prototype set of the wheels in use – on a mountain bike.
As a number of riders in this year’s Tour de France can attest, getting a flat after hitting a tack or nail on the road not only causes delays, but can also be downright dangerous. Last year, Hutchison released its airless Serenity tire that is 100 percent flat-proof, but cyclist Steve Boehmke found they were fairly difficult to install and only fitted a very specific sized rim. To overcome this, he’s built wheelsets with the tires pre-mounted that are designed to take the hassle out of getting them on your bike.
This week at the Tokyo Auto Show in Japan Bridgestone showed off its latest development – puncture-less air-free tires. The tires are still in the concept phase, but have been successfully tested on single-person vehicles in Japan traditionally used for elderly people. The 9-inch wheels have thermoplastic-resin spokes that radiate from the rim to the tread, curving to the left and right for maximum structural support. The solid design doesn't require air, and consequently can't be punctured - so, no more flat tires.
Following a request from NASA, Goodyear last year developed an airless tire
designed to transport large, long-range vehicles across the surface of celestial bodies such as the moon or Mars. The tire, constructed out of 800 load bearing springs, is designed to carry much heavier vehicles (up to 10 times) over much greater distances (up to 100 times) than the wire mesh tire that Goodyear helped develop for the Apollo Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). The Spring Tire has now been recognized with a so-called “Oscar of Innovation” at the 44th Annual R&D 100 Awards in Orlando, Florida.
It looks like seventies science fiction television is (finally) going to meet reality with NASA planning to set up a real Moonbase Alpha by 2020. In order to meet the heavy load/long range transport requirements of life on the moon, NASA recently teamed up with Goodyear to review and redesign some 40-year-old technology in the shape of the airless tires first seen on the Lunar Rover Vehicles of Apollo missions.
is an non-pneumatic Tire/WhEEL combo which offers an idiot-proof, no-maintenance, easily-retreadable tire for consumers and the holy grail for the military - a tire that can't be “shot out.” You won't see the Tweel on your sandmobile any time soon because it has noise, vibration, heat and wear problems at highway speeds, but its unique construction enables it to be specifically engineered with ideal characteristics for highly specialized low speed applications. The ultimate badge of credibility was bestowed on the design when it rolled down Pennsylvania Avenue on NASA’s Small Pressurized Lunar Rover prototype during the Obama presidential inauguration.
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.
April 30, 2005 Michelin’s radical new Tweel
announced in January this year looks set to be the next big thing in tyre technology but recent news from Amerityre on a very similar technology suggests there will be strong competition in the airless tyre market, as more than one manufacturer is close to market. Amerityre has successfully completed high-speed testing of its experimental non-pneumatic or “zero-pressure” polyurethane tyre in testing for FMVSS 129 compliance, the safety standard governing the testing of non-pneumatic car tyres. The advantages of the polyurethane tyre are many according to Amerityre including much cooler running temperatures (less wear), much lower rolling resistance (amounting to a reported 10% decrease in fuel consumption) and the ability to produce a complete tyre inside a few minutes significantly simplifying and reducing the cost of the manufacturing process.