Rubber industry or so called tire industry has experienced a remarkable boom in recent years.
After classic tires with air tubes or without tubes, the runflat wheels appeared, i.e. those on which you can safely drive a maximum speed of 80 km/h to the nearest tire shop. Many vehicles have also begun to run without spare tire, only with an adhesive kit and a compressor, which is not a good solution for a larger damage on flat tire.
The next development in flat tire protection are self-healing (self-sealing) tires. For example, ContiSeal tires by Continental include an adhesive, viscous, sealing layer, which covers the inside of the tread. Upon tire puncture, a hole of up to 5 mm diameter is immediately sealed. This prevents the loss of air pressure and the driver can continue driving without interruption. Similar systems have been developed, for example, by Michelin or Kumho. This is a higher level in comparison to flat tire repair kits. But in the future, a completely new type of puncture-resistant tire is to come in, so let’s see what it is going on.
A Look Back
This revolutionary tire was introduced in 2017 as the Michelin Visionary Tire (at the Movin’On Summit in Québec, Canada) for the first time. Until then, a tire was known as a rubber ring on the disk filled with air. Michellin builds the future on a completely new principle. The most important requirement was to eliminate defects or common damage. That’s why development engineers have already set four pillars of tire innovation: no air filling, cross-linking, 3D printing and 100% durability (fully renewable or biologically produced materials). The new tire integrates the disc and the tire into one unit, where it will be possible to change the tread pattern to fit the operating conditions of each vehicle. A fully automatic system based on Michelin would use the 3D printer to apply the desired tread pattern to the surface according to specific requirements. Michelin’s research and development vice president, Terry Gettys, said at the first presentation of the revolutionary idea that the project required a lot of work to be done, especially from a lifetime perspective. In the future, the tires should communicate with the vehicle, thus sending out the abrasion data, but also the road conditions.
Now we are bringing you news about the Airless Tire system for personal vehicles that Michelin and GM are working on really hard. The new generation of the Michelin Uptis (Unique Punctureproof Tire System) prototype was presented again this year at the Movin’On Summit for Sustainable Mobility which makes the future mobility one step closer. This is confirmed by the information on its introduction to serial production in 2024. The test vehicle was the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and this year the fleet of electric vehicles will be involved in a comprehensive practice test in Michigan.
New tires are expected to contribute to greater road safety, greater efficiency due to less time for maintenance, reduced environmental impact due to lower tire consumption and the need for their production. Annually, according to Michelin data, about 200 million tires are discarded worldwide due to punctures, damage to poor roads, or uneven tire tread wear, which causes inappropriate tire pressure.
Text: Peter Stano, photo: Michelin, GM