Linglong Tire, a Chinese tires manufacturer started developing, in conjunction with Beijing University of Chemical Technology, the first Chinese 3D printed tire.
Looking to an environmentally-friendly solution for the tire industry, the additive manufacturing process could innovate the whole sector since it could bring improvements in efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs of the tires
AM can improve efficiency in the tire automotive sector
Almost 11% of a normal car’s fuel is wasted on overcoming rolling resistance (source: U.S. Department of Energy) and this percentage increases when considering heavier vehicles. Linglong Tire uses thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) to 3D print this new tire, and claims this material has lower rolling resistance and heat resistance compared to conventional rubber tires. Striving for green, energy saving, high performance tire materials, Linglong Tire also wants to innovate and make a more fuel efficient tire.
Linglong, together with BUCT, produced the tire using an FDM 3D printer. The tire’s internal hexagonal geometry removes the need for air in a similar way to French tire company Michelin’s concept tire. Linglong explains the alternative additive manufacturing technique still ensures safety, endurance and environmental protection as the tires can be easily recycled.
The Chinese company is certainly not the first tire company to explore the use of 3D printing, as mentioned with Michelin. However other companies have only showcased concept tires with the technology. American tire manufacturer Goodyear also proposed a 3D printed concept tire last year – the Eagle 360. Not only was this design 3D printed, but the tire was also completely spherical. It seems that Linglong’s aspirations for 3D printed tires are notably more grounded. The project is combining academic researchers to genuinely explore the feasibility of 3D printed tires. (source: 3DPI).