The German company, BigRep, has taken to the streets with its latest innovation, the world’s first 3D-printed, full-scale airless bicycle tire.
BigRep’s Product Designer Marco Mattia Cristofori explains how he used the flexible properties of the company’s new Pro FLEX filament to bring the tire prototype to life.
“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,” says Cristofori. Even small changes to the infill percentage or pattern can lead to different results in terms of weight and performance.”
Printed on the BigRep ONE large-scale 3D printer, the tire prototype utilizes the full potential of company’s latest filament, Pro FLEX. What separates the Pro FLEX from other 3D printing filaments is its unique flexible properties, coupled with high temperature resistance and durability.
The rigidity and the internal pattern, known as the infill, can be controlled and customized to suit different weather conditions or terrain. The current tire prototype uses a three-layered honeycomb pattern adapted for urban use.
BigRep says, the main advantage of airless tires as opposed to traditional inflated ones, is that they simply never go flat. Once a luxury, airless tires are now looking to become standard practice in the transportation world.
This is not BigRep’s first foray into the mobility segment, as the company has worked on a wide range of automotive, aerospace and transportation projects for such clients such as Aerobus, BMW, Deutsche Bahn, Etihad and Nissan.
Following a recent article in which BigRep showcased its newly developed 3D printed wheel, the company now believes it’s also possible to print a fully-functioning bike frame, as demonstrated by engineers at Germany’s Aalborg University.
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