London – Michelin and French machinery supplier Fives have set up a 50/50 joint venture to develop industrial machines and production shops for metal 3D printing.
According to Pierre Robert, director of Michelins’ R&D centre Ladoux, the joint venture, called AddUp, will offer “cutting edge technology which improves tire performance.”
“With 3D printing, we are able to make moulds with very complex features. The idea is to have tread features that can regenerate throughout the life of tire,” explained Robert in an interview with ERJ.
The move is part of Michelin’s drive to manufacture longer-lasting tires that can maintain high levels of grip even at the statutory minimum 1.6mm tread depth.
“When you wear the tire, you have this complex feature and then you make a new sculpture feature appear throughout the whole life of the tire. [This] will increase the grip and compensate the loss of tread depth,” said Robert.
For that, he added, the company has developed very complex sculptures and mould features which make the adherence performance more sustainable.
Michelin announced at the launch of the JV in September that it had, for several years, been developing its unique expertise in metal additive manufacturing in order to commercially produce mould parts that are unachievable using traditional means of production (machining, welding, etc.).
This technology, said Michelin, now makes it possible to develop and market truck and car tires with “exceptional performances”.
Fives is a supplier of equipment and production systems for industrial companies in various sectors worldwide. It applies expertise in mechanical engineering, automation, and industrial process control to produce fully digitised machines and systems for additive manufacturing and other industrial processes.
Fives and Michelin intend the JV to become a key player in the market for metal additive manufacturing.
Full interview to appear in the Jan/Feb issue of ERJ magazine.