MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® General FAQs

Manufacturing / Product Construction Questions

They are being produced in South Carolina, just outside of Greenville.

No. There is only one manufacturing plant at this time. They will soon be exported to other regions of the world.

Michelin is the only manufacturer of airless radial tires and has providing solutions since 2012 for commercial purposes. Recently Goodyear has announced a product for ZTR’s. Other companies have showcased prototype products that do not use air. We cannot comment on their performance claims or similarity to our Airless Radial Tire.

A TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire is comprised of a heavy gauge rigid steel hub, connected to a shear beam by means of flexible, deformable high strength poly resin spokes and a rubber tread band. The shear beam on the UTV is made of proprietary Comp 10 Cable™.

The Michelin Comp10 Cable™ high tech innovation, used in some TWEEL® airless radials, was invented in our Switzerland Research Center.

This is not the same kind of polyurethane you normally find in the marketplace. Poly resin is structural polyurethane. It is specifically formulated for this application.

Michelin has adapted the best technical curing processes from its high performance tires for use in the production TWEEL® airless radial tires. In addition, Michelin has developed proprietary casting and bonding processes for TWEEL® products.

Like all Michelin tires, making them requires skilled professionals who work to very high safety and quality standards. We must have employees who are trained to operate the highly advanced equipment.

Awards

In the past five years, the TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire and one of its co-inventors have been presented with over 15 awards.

  • A Silver Award in the Transportation category was awarded to the MICHELIN® X®TWEEL® SSL on April 26, 2013 by the 2013 Edison Awards. Of the 7,156 applications received, 131 finalists were selected by the Edison Awards Committee. The MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® was one of 42 winners, who represented 12 categories and symbolize the persistence and excellence personified by Thomas Alva Edison.
  • The MICHELIN® X®TWEEL® SSL was selected as one of the 2013 Contractors’ Top 50 New Products by readers of Equipment Today as one of the industry’s most innovative products for the year.
  • In January 2014, Equipment World named one of the “five game-changing” construction products of 2013 for their 2014 Innovations Awards. The MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® SSL was named as one of those five product winners.
  • Dr. Tim Rhyne, a senior research fellow with Michelin Americas Research and Development Corporation, was selected as a 2014 recipient by the editors at Engineering News-Record (ENR) as a top 25 Newsmakers of the year for his work on the revolutionary MICHELIN® TWEEL® airless radial tire technology in April. The award recognizes individuals "with the passion, drive and courage to tackle the most difficult challenges and make our world a better place."
  • In June 2014, Michelin North America, Inc. received a Manufacturing Leadership Award in the Product Leadership category at the 2014 Manufacturing Leadership Awards for the MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® SSL by the Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council. The awards were presented in 11 categories and celebrate companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing. They recognize outstanding projects undertaken and completed by manufacturing companies. According to the Manufacturing Leadership Community, the award winners distinguish themselves by “embracing breakthrough innovation and respond to customers with unmatched agility.” The Product Leadership award, one of the most competitive categories, recognizes companies that have introduced disruptive new products that expand or open new markets. The award winner demonstrates the ability to generate new ideas that lead to pioneering new products that change and create markets.
  • In March 2015, Michelin Tweel Technologies received the John Deere “Innovation of the Year Award” for the MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF. The award is presented to a select group of suppliers that have demonstrated innovation in a product or service they provide to John Deere. Award selections are based on four factors: creativity, feasibility, collaboration and bottom-line impact. John Deere created the supplier innovation awards in 2010 to promote innovation in the company's supply base and recognize suppliers that think creatively.
  • In October 2015, the MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® TURF™ received an Honorable Mention in the Automotive/Transportation category in the 2015 Create the Future Design Contest .Chosen from more than 1,150 new product ideas submitted from 60 countries, the 22 winners and honorable mentions were judged on innovation, manufacturability and marketability in seven categories. Launched in 2002 by the publishers of NASA Tech Briefs magazine to help stimulate and reward engineering innovation, the Create the Future Design Contest annual event has attracted more than 10,000 product design ideas from engineers, entrepreneurs, and students worldwide. More than 55 judges worldwide on the magazine’s editorial board of readers and contest sponsors reviewed the submissions in the Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Products, Electronics, Machinery/Automation/Robotics, Medical Products, and Sustainable Technologies categories.

The History & the Concept

The TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire) is a single unit replacing the current tire, wheel and valve assembly. It replaces the typical bias ply pneumatic, foam filled, or solid tire and is comprised of a rigid hub, connected to a shear beam by means of flexible, deformable polyurethane spokes and a tread band, all functioning as a single unit.

It was over lunch in the late 1990s in Greenville S.C. that Dr. Tim Rhyne with fellow Michelin engineer and co-inventor Steve Cron had the idea of challenging pneumatic tire technology and exploring new and revolutionary concepts for this essential component of mobility. Patents began to be issued on various aspects of the concept in 1999, 2000 and 2003.

Over the following decade, the engineers worked diligently on various prototypes of the TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire and, in 2005, the product was finally showcased at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Michigan on the iBOT wheelchair and Segway Concept Centaur Human Transporter. The commercial launch of the X® TWEEL® SSL for skid steer loaders was in July 2012. It was a short seven years from prototype to commercial launch which set a record.

Michelin introduced the first commercially available 12N16.5 X® TWEEL® SSL in July 2012.

The characteristics that have made the air-filled tire the dominant technology on the planet include four characteristics. One of them is low contact pressure, which allows navigation through rough terrain with traction. Our proprietary technology gives us the ability to optimize that contact patch beyond what we’re able to do with radial technology. The next characteristic is low vertical stiffness, which reduces the shock to the machine and the operator. The polyurethane spokes absorb the energy and then give it back which allows the machine to be stable without hopping; the stability improvers the operator’s productivity. Low rolling resistance over rough surfaces is the third characteristic. Solid tires or wagon wheels, for example, lose all their energy as they encounter an obstacle, use all the vehicles energy to overcome the obstacle, and get none of this lost energy back. An air filled tire absorbs the energy and gives it back on the other side. The last characteristic is an air filled tire has minimal or low mass for the load that it carries. The TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire incorporates these four characteristics but eliminates the issue of catastrophic failure due to flats.

The TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire is a top loaded tire meaning that it performs similar to a bicycle tire or a suspension bridge. The spokes disburse the forces all the way around the tire radially much the same way air does in an air-filled tire. The tire’s construction pulls the spokes downward and from the outside of the structure to implicate the shear beam. It hangs the load from the top and creates a large footprint which ends up being a very low contact pressure footprint providing good traction and mobility.

Other tires that don’t have air in them, such as foam filled or solid tires, carry the load from the hub to the contact patch and are called bottom loaders. As a result, they get very high contact pressure, which results in poor traction and not a very good footprint.

Future Products

Michelin Tweel Technologies is currently studying other applications. The focus will continue to be in the off-road environment where tire satisfaction is low due to interrupted mobility or poor performance.

We are driven by what is best for the consumer. Innovation is part of Michelin’s DNA, and we embrace the changes that come along with introducing new solutions for better mobility to the market. Michelin has a long history as the leader in our industry in this area. The focus for the MICHELIN® X® TWEEL® Airless Radial Tire for the near future will remain on lighter weight and lower speed applications.

Although it is acknowledged that the initial prototype automotive TWEEL® tires did demonstrate flaws with regard to noise and high speed vibration radial tire, these early issues were resolved in subsequent prototypes, and current automotive TWEEL® prototype products have been shown to be well behaved and reliable. As a demonstration of viability and reliability, three highway driven vehicles (a 2012 Honda CR-Z, a resto-modded 1955 Morris Minor Traveller, and an Aluma brand trailer hauling a Polaris ATV which was also equipped with TWEEL ® tires) successfully participated in the entire 1500 mile 2013 Hot Rod Power Tour long distance road trip event in June 2013.