Who needs air when you have thermoplastic polyurethane honeycomb?
A German start-up called BigRep has come out with prototype 3D-printed solid/airless bike tyres. Somebody tell Greg Minnaar!
Although the featured prototypes appear to be aimed at commuter bikes BigRep do mention a possibility of mountain bike tyres too.
With all the tyre inserts coming out these days, there seems to be a new design every week, there may well be more interest in this avenue of airless tyres for mountain biking.
No more punctures, guaranteed.
BigRep’s Marco Mattia Cristofori: “We were able to replace ‘air’ as a necessity in the tire by customizing the pattern to be one of a three-layered honeycomb design. Based on the same principle, the design can be altered to fit the requirements of specific kinds of biking, such as mountain biking and road racing, or for different weather and speed conditions. Perfecting the design is the trickiest part.”
The BigRep tyres replace the air chamber with a rather complex looking, three layer honeycomb arrangement made out of a thermoplastic polyurethane filament that BigRep called ‘Pro FLEX’ (no relation to the venerable old full sussers from back in the day!)
Try not be put off by all the holes, which will indeed fill with mud, as we reckon it’s perfectly feasible for BigRep the print an all-encompassing outer layer all around the honeycomb to keep the muck out.
The current one cubic metre build volume of BigRep’s 3D-printer may limit the wheel size and tyre volumes possible. It’s unclear at this stage.
Small changes to the infill percentage or pattern can lead to different results in terms of weight and performance. The rigidity and the internal pattern can be controlled and customized to suit different weather conditions or terrain.