Chinese tire manufacturer Linglong Tire has involved three-dimensional printing in the manufacturing process of tires. For the project, the company enlisted the support of Beijing University of chemical technology (BUCT).
The advantages of additive manufacturing
The Chinese firm decided to offer a more sustainable solution for the tire industry. To do this, Linglong has studied the possibility of production of tires using graphene as it relates to energy-saving and high-performance materials used for the manufacture of tires.
3D-printed Linglong tire is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). This material has a low resistance and temperature resistance compared to conventional rubber. Thanks to this tyres are more economical than their conventional counterparts. According to the U.S. Department of energy, 11% of fuel the car consumed just to overcome the resistance. The heavier the vehicle, the higher the figure.
In addition, additive manufacturing promises lower costs for the production of tires, than using traditional methods (i.e. the use of molds).
Developments in this direction
For production of 3D-printed Linglong tires together with BUCT used a FDM printer. Internal hexagonal geometry of the tire, eliminates the need for air similar Michelin tire concept. Alternative technology from Chinese manufacturers provides endurance, safety, and also helps to protect the environment from pollution (these tires can be easily recycled).
Linglong although not the first to propose the use of additive technology in the manufacture of tires, they were the first to embody it in reality in full scale. Last year, the American manufacturer Goodyear has demonstrated three-dimensional printing concept tire Eagle 360. But the model was not actively used in production.
It is impossible not to recall the French company Michelin. She enlisted the support of Fives Addup Solutions for printing metal molds used in the tire production.