Michelin Tweels-airless tyres
Michelin Tweels combine the tyre and the wheel into one unit that can’t get a puncture
This is no doubt a great idea from Michelin and will be a great application on such things as plant items and grass mowers, but I am not sure about long term plans to use them on cars. Would they eventually do away with the regular car tyre (if there is such a thing)? i do not think so.
Like all the new car technologies that are coming on to the market i think that they will just be a part of the big mix.
Michelin Tweels are a really good breakthrough
Ever since I have worked in the tyre industry. I wondered if the normal every day tyres. Would be replaced by some new invention.
Furthermore, I also worked for a few years. On the plant and heavy earthmover part of the tyre business. Specifically, these were the massive tyres that we see working in the huge quarries. Also, on industrial sites around Britain.
When one of these giant trucks and earthmoving machines. Were stopped by tyre problems. It would cost the companies thousands of pounds in down time.
These companies kept spares on site. As a result it was inevitable that our tyre company. Would have to come out and attend to the tyre problem.
The most common problem though came from the smaller plant items. Such as dumper trucks and JCB machines. When these things had to stop for tyre damage, then it could mean big problems, because it could have held the whole operation, such as laying tarmac, which is crucial to timing due to the fact that the tarmac had to be laid while It was still hot.
We really had to be on the ball, when attending tyre problems, because time really did mean money.
Michelin Tweels similar to the fork truck tyres
Some machines back then were coming out on a solid metal wheel with a rubber band attached to it; we used to call them solids. A whole new industry grew up, replacing the pneumatic tyres with what we then and now call solids.
Once again the fork trucks were very important in the industrial world, and down time due to tyre problems could cost hundreds of pounds a time. Slowly but surely the fork truck pneumatic (air filled) were replaced by solids. The solids would gradually wear their rubber ring out but it took a long time to do this and in the mean time they never got any punctures.
One of the big manufacturers of these special wheels was a company from Canada called “Bearcat”. They were a very aggressive company and took over most of the fork truck work in the ICI Chemicals works in Huddersfield, but they did send the business in my direction, and times were good.
I often thought that it would be good to be able to create a product similar to the solid wheels for the larger plant items, which would stop then having tom have so many tyre repairs and the down time that went with it.
Michelin Tweels have plugged the gap
This is where the Michelin Tweels came in to the equation. Michelin Tweels have a moulded-treat rubber band like conventional tyres mounted on a metal hub in the centre, very similar to the fork truck wheels, but of a much lighter alloy based metal. The big difference comes between the tread and the metal hub are flexible spokes which can flex and deform under -weight and pressure.
This is the big difference, the flexibility allows the vehicle to ride over rough terrain, very similar to the Mars lander tyres set up. This means that they are perfect for small and medium plant machines, the type that cause much trouble with punctured tyres.
Michelin are now going to build a $50 million plant to build these airless tyres. They will be made for agricultural vehicles as well as machines that work on construction sites and land fill sites where puncture repairs have previously been a common problem.
Michelin have been working on the Tweel from 2005 and they were originally thought to be developed for the car industry, but it soon became clear to the giant French tyre company that this invention had other great potentials,
Hats off to Michelin Tweels
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