New Airless Tires Will Never Go Flat

Hankook Airless Tires: Non-pneumatic tires are the wave of the futureHankook Airless Tires: Non-pneumatic tires are the wave of the future


After years of discussion on the topic and countless attempts at making it a reality somebody's finally perfecting a tire for personal and commercial vehicles that won't go flat. Hallelujah, our day has come! No more flat tires at the least opportune moments. So how do you keep a tire from ever going flat? Simple, you take the air out of the equation. Not as in let it out, obviously, but as in you never put it in in the first place. That's right, airless tires. They've been around for a while for things like lawnmowers, golf carts and certain construction equipment and the military's been looking into it for decades. But the company behind the most recent rendering of the concept is Hankook Tire based out of South Korea. So, who are these guys and what's their background?

Hankook History

Hankook is an award-winning developer of innovative rubber products that has been around for over 74 years. In 2013, they were chosen as an original equipment supplier for the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. In 2014, they opened a plant here in the U.S. in Clarksville, TN. Their mission statement claims to "strive to help drivers enjoy their time on the road and be confident in the choices they make." To achieve this, they aim to "keep introducing up-to-date technologies and solutions that meet tomorrow's criteria for safety, performance, excellence in quality, and other factors contributing to advancement in driving." Their ability to invent and perfect products and constantly evolve in order to meet the demands of society with an eye toward the future is now making them one of the biggest movers and shakers in cutting-edge tire technology.

Airless Tires

The Hankook iFlex, which is made using eco-friendly materials, is the future of driving. They are known as non-pneumatic (NPT) or airless tires. Back in July of this year the company announced that they had just successfully completed the ride and handling tests for their fifth generation NPT prototype. In the works since 2011, geometric shapes built into the structure of the new "uni-material" tires provide the bounce and spring normally associated with air pressure. The unspecified materials are said to be eco-friendly due to the lightweight product construction significantly enhancing energy efficiency and the fact that they can supposedly be recycled with greater ease. They've also reduced the number of steps necessary to complete the tires from eight to four, reducing the product's carbon footprint even more. So far Hankook feels the results in all five categories of testing have demonstrated that the NPTs are capable of matching conventional tires in terms of performance.


Design Project Tires

Hankook/Vibram Project Tires & Shoes: Performance tires and footwearHankook/Vibram Project Tires & Shoes: Performance tires and footwear

Besides airless tires, Hankook has recently collaborated with Italian-based Vibram for two off-road concept tires, the DynaMIX and the DynaSYNC, which were inspired by the flexible blocks of hiking boot outer-sole treads and layer structure Vibram is known for. The honeycomb and cocoon designs applied to the sidewalls make them better able to handle shock and increases safety. Believe it or not, they've made shoes to compliment the tires — or tires to compliment the shoes, depending on how you want to look at it. They're called the Dyna Trek and the Dyna Stryke BKL. Hankook is also creating three new tires based on terrain and weather conditions. They are the Boostrac, the Alpike and the hyBlade created for desert, snow and rain use, respectively, and they are being hyped as a great challenge for a great change. The distinctive looks of all five of these concept tires are like nothing you've ever seen before.


University of Cleveland

TiltRead Non-Pneumatic Tire by Hankook: Ground-breaking tire to change the face of racingTiltRead Non-Pneumatic Tire by Hankook: Ground-breaking tire to change the face of racing


Hankook has also partnered up with the University of Cleveland for a joint project under the theme "new tires for the future" with some ground-breaking designs. One of them is called TiltRead that is poised to be the evolution of sports tires. They are partitioned NPTs with automatic control suspension that will change the face of racing, if they pan out. The other three are equally exciting and are bound to have an impact on driving as well. They are the Motiv off-road tire, designed on the same concept as the partitioned TiltRead, and a hybrid tire called the eMembrane, which has been designed for fuel efficiency and superior gripping at high speeds. Lastly, there's the MagTrac, a smart tire for quiet, comfortable rides. All of these innovative products are light years ahead of the competition and can be found through the previous link listed under "2012 The way to the future."

Innovation & Leadership

Expect to see a lot more coming out of Hankook Tire in the future. The company is bent on being the industry leader in all aspects of driving performance, safety and innovation when it comes to tires. Their exciting designs can be seen on and off road in the private sector and among motor sports enthusiasts, both professional and amateur. It should be noted Hankook is not the only company trying to produce and perfect NPTs. Bridgestone and Resilient Technologies have also been working on this concept for the last few years. There is no definitive word yet when these products will be available to the public, but they are nearing release and worth looking out for. Now if they can just make a tire that doesn't wear out and lose its tread . . .