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Reinventing the Wheel: Non-Pneumatic Tires

Polaris Defense, a division of Polaris Industries Inc., recently introduced the Non-Pneumatic Tire (NPT).
 
These airless tires are designed to not go flat. A honeycomb-like structure inside keeps the tire rigid without the need for an air-filled cavity found in normal tires. That way, a NPT can never lose pressure if damaged because it has none to begin with. And the web is surrounded by a rubber tread band which allows continuous operation, even if up to 30 percent of the web is damaged. No more flat tires? Sounds good to me.
 
Richard Haddad, Polaris Defense General Manager, said they “have tested our NPTs over 5,000 miles with a .50 caliber bullet hole and the performance exceeded expectations.”
 
Polaris didn't invent the technology. It bought Wisconsin-based Resilient Technologies, a 12-person start-up that first made airless lawn mower tires, in April and sought to jazz it up for bigger applications.
 
These tires sound great on paper, but will they work in real-world ATV use? They seem to work great at slow speeds over rocks and in sand but I'd like to see them used in thick mud or snow. I would imagine that the grid would get filled up with ice and mud and throw the tire off-balance.
 
NASA believes in the NPT technology and outfitted the new Lunar Rover with a custom version of Michelin’s Tweel on its 12 wheels.

Comments (11)

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from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Pretty cool! I agree with you on the mud and snow but I'm sure they could develope the inner web to throw the mud or snow as the wheel turns. Or just give them an outer layer of rubber or something. Still pretty cool though. I'd buy them for my truck if they ever became available.

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

These honeycomb inner-wheel structures...what are they made of? I'm assuming something with a little give, maybe a hard rubber of some sort? Seems to me, that if they were completely rigid, they'd make a rough ATV ride that much rougher. I'm assuming (we all know where that can lead!) that Polaris has taken this into consideration, but I'm still curious.

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from capt.seagull wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Cool but I think Mike is right about the mud and snow

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from Dcast wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Very cool. I doubt that the mud and snow would be much of a problem due to centrifical force, and the mud and snow will constantly be packed down not allowing it to fully fill the cavity giving it the ability to be expelled by CF. What would be a problem is extremely cold weather.

1/2 of 2, If you look at the picture it clearly shows that the wheels have give not to mention most atv's and vehicles in general have some sort of suspension that doesn't rely on tires to absorb the most of the impact.

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from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Dcast,
After taking a second look, I see where the tire shows some give. No wonder my wife is always asking me if I'm paying attention...

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes, I've seen these tires written about several years ago. Such tires 'sound' interesting...but as was stated above...when rocks, dirt and/or ice and snow become trapped in the honey-combs, that would lead to serious vibration, alignment and front end problems.

The premise of these tires should have some applications, but I think that some further R & D will still be needed.

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from hermit crab wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Agree with Dcast. The centrifugal force should expel most loose stuff out. But what happens when you get a rock wedged tightly into the honeycomb structure? I'm guessing you'll have a heck of a time getting it back out of there...

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from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I remember when I was working on off road vehicles for some "special" applications. We looked at tweels but that was several years before the honeycomb design was released. At the time I think they went with tire pressure sensors and run flats. I thought I remember it leading to some army testing and development for MWRAPs though. They were filled with plastic for more stiffness. I think they had problem with NVH and NV-heat.

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from wgiles wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Non-pneumatic tires have been available for construction equipment for some time. They don't hold up as well as pneumatic tires and usually require a special wheel. Heat build up is probably the most common problem. They may have military applications, but will probably be too expensive for civilians.

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from Ol Krusty wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

The best way to fix the snow or mud in the tire concern, would be to keep the rubber side walls on the tire. It seems like it would be a good simple fix and add a little strength and stability to the tire. Overall I think the concept is a good one.

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from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Ideal for desert areas, just wish I had a set years ago

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from Pathfinder1 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Hi...

Yes, I've seen these tires written about several years ago. Such tires 'sound' interesting...but as was stated above...when rocks, dirt and/or ice and snow become trapped in the honey-combs, that would lead to serious vibration, alignment and front end problems.

The premise of these tires should have some applications, but I think that some further R & D will still be needed.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

These honeycomb inner-wheel structures...what are they made of? I'm assuming something with a little give, maybe a hard rubber of some sort? Seems to me, that if they were completely rigid, they'd make a rough ATV ride that much rougher. I'm assuming (we all know where that can lead!) that Polaris has taken this into consideration, but I'm still curious.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from capt.seagull wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Cool but I think Mike is right about the mud and snow

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Half-of-two wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Dcast,
After taking a second look, I see where the tire shows some give. No wonder my wife is always asking me if I'm paying attention...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hermit crab wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Agree with Dcast. The centrifugal force should expel most loose stuff out. But what happens when you get a rock wedged tightly into the honeycomb structure? I'm guessing you'll have a heck of a time getting it back out of there...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from wgiles wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Non-pneumatic tires have been available for construction equipment for some time. They don't hold up as well as pneumatic tires and usually require a special wheel. Heat build up is probably the most common problem. They may have military applications, but will probably be too expensive for civilians.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from themadflyfisher wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Pretty cool! I agree with you on the mud and snow but I'm sure they could develope the inner web to throw the mud or snow as the wheel turns. Or just give them an outer layer of rubber or something. Still pretty cool though. I'd buy them for my truck if they ever became available.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dcast wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

Very cool. I doubt that the mud and snow would be much of a problem due to centrifical force, and the mud and snow will constantly be packed down not allowing it to fully fill the cavity giving it the ability to be expelled by CF. What would be a problem is extremely cold weather.

1/2 of 2, If you look at the picture it clearly shows that the wheels have give not to mention most atv's and vehicles in general have some sort of suspension that doesn't rely on tires to absorb the most of the impact.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Buckshott00 wrote 1 year 15 weeks ago

I remember when I was working on off road vehicles for some "special" applications. We looked at tweels but that was several years before the honeycomb design was released. At the time I think they went with tire pressure sensors and run flats. I thought I remember it leading to some army testing and development for MWRAPs though. They were filled with plastic for more stiffness. I think they had problem with NVH and NV-heat.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ol Krusty wrote 1 year 14 weeks ago

The best way to fix the snow or mud in the tire concern, would be to keep the rubber side walls on the tire. It seems like it would be a good simple fix and add a little strength and stability to the tire. Overall I think the concept is a good one.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Clay Cooper wrote 1 year 4 weeks ago

Ideal for desert areas, just wish I had a set years ago

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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