Dump the air pump. These 3D-printed flexible bicycle tires could be the future of riding.
BigRep created the world’s first 3d printed airless bicycle tire. The design was printed with the new PRO FLEX flexible filament on the BigRep ONE large 3D printer. More prototypes are in the works.
The tire looks a bit like somewhere you can see right through to the other side. BigRep’s Maik Dobberack tells me the idea is to be able to customize the tires according to your needs. So you might print a tire with a different internal pattern or tread to accommodate mountain riding versus road riding or to handle different weather conditions.
Test bicyclist Marco Mattia Cristofori, who also designed the tires, took them for a spin around Berlin and reported a “very smooth ride.”
As with many cool, forward-thinking things, though, you can’t actually have these tires right now.
“The main goal of the design was to inspire and explore the endless possibilities of large scale 3D printing,” Dobberack says. He describes the tires as an “in-house industrial application design” that isn’t meant for large-scale production at this time.
The prototype tires are designed to test BigRep’s new Pro Flex filament. The filament’s flexible nature is what makes it work for the bike tires. BigRep says Pro-Flex can be used for rapid prototyping for a variety of objects, including skateboard wheels, ski tips, and automotive gear knobs.
This isn’t BigRep‘s first foray into things that roll. The company recently created a 3D-printed custom wheel rim for a car, and a group of engineers used a BigRep machine to print out a functional bicycle frame.
BigRep’s prototype tire could be a harbinger of things to come for cyclists. I may wake up one morning in New Mexico, check the weather and then print out a couple of bike tires designed to handle monsoon rains and defy goathead punctures at the same time.