Michelin is currently working on a new tyre-making technology that uses 3D printers to bring worn-out rubber back to life. A CarAdvice report states that the idea forms part of the company’s holistic ‘Visionary Concept’, including developing innovative technologies such as an airless wheel/tyre package, tyres made of wood, and 3D printing.

Michelin director of science and communication Cyrille Roget told the Australian publication that proper industrialised 3D printing could be a decade away or more, but his team has made significant advances. “In the same way that you can visit a recharge station with your Tesla, we think the same situation could apply when it comes to re-treads for your tyres,” he said.

“Essentially, the printer can produce a new tread on your existing tyre in a matter of minutes… that’s any tread you want – from winter, sport or even an all-terrain version for your SUV. The biggest hurdle will be setting up a re-tread station infrastructure but given 3D technology is also environmentally friendly in that it only adds sufficient material to replenish the tyre tread, it offers major benefits in this regard.”

Another interesting feature to complement this technology is that it’s connected. This means drivers will be able to access critical information like tread depth through an app, for example. This information will then be relayed to the printer to determine the perfect tread pattern to suit the season or time of year.

Meanwhile, the company is also developing flexible wheels, dubbed the Acorus technology. Currently, Michelin produces 165 million tyres a year. If this 3D printing technology can help promote recyclability, we’re all for it. What do you think? Discuss, below.