Some of the Latest in Tire TechnologyOn the surface, car and truck tires don't seem like terribly complex things; basically a donut made of rubber, steel belts and air -that's about it, right?  Well, decades ago that may have been the case but in recent years tires are starting to get more complex.  In this article, we'll take a look at some of the newest features popping up in the world of automotive tires.

The history

As you probably know, the earliest tires had solid rubber surfaces.  The rims themselves were made of either wood or steel and they were covered with a thick layer of solid rubber. While this sort of tire can be very durable, they don't absorb road shocks well and this makes for a vehicle which rides very harshly.  That was all changed, however, in the late 1880s by John Dunlop who introduced a rubber tire that was inflated with compressed air. The ride of an automobile with "pneumatic" tires was so superior to the old style that most manufacturers switched quickly.  With the exception of the construction of internal cords or "plys" that were added to strengthen tires, tire construction was the essentially the same for the next hundred years.

How tires are made today

It all starts with the basic ingredients: rubber, carbon black, steel belts and various chemicals. Tires are constructed on special steel drums and then cured in a press under heat and pressure. This creates a polymerization reaction that links the short rubber monomer ingredients into long elastic rubber molecules. As you probably know, tires aren't solid rubber; in between the inner and outer rubber surfaces, steel belts are inserted to give the tire strength and form.

Although there are several hundred firms making tires today, the highest grossing manufacturers are: Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, and Pirelli.

New tire technologies being explored

EverGrip - The French manufacturer Michelin has invented a tire that will evolve as it wears out. Present tires are great when new, but as they age, they lose their grip because their grooves become smaller. "EverGrip," as it's referred to by Michelin, uses main tread grooves that get wider as they wear down. In a sense, the tires become safer as they age.

DiscolorTyre - The problem: most car owners can't effectively tell when their tires are worn out so tires that are designed to communicate wear would be helpful. To address this problem, Bridgestone has created the "DiscolorTyre."  These tires start life as any other black rubber tire, but as tread wear reaches minimum legal level, a layer of bright orange rubber appears surfaces. With 13-percent of all cars on U.S. roads estimated to have one or more bald tires, this is a creative solution that might make its way into law soon. Self-inflating - Self-inflating tires for the consumer market are also being explored by several manufacturers. Already a technology used for some heavy machinery and military vehicles, self-inflating tires use sensors that measure pressure in the tire. If the pressure is too low, a connected air source inflates the tire during operation.

Airless tires - First explored back in 2005, Michelin's "Tweel" is an airless tire. It is made of a solid hub, flexible polyurethane spokes, and an outer band of tread. The spiral inner spokes absorb the force from the road while driving, similar to pneumatic tires. While they still use rubber, airless tires use less of it, and they can be rebuilt – a major issue for environmentalists.

Article Source: Cadillac of Dublin

Image Source: Google