Tire Engineering: An Introduction
Tire technology is a complex combination of materials science, mathematics, and structural engineering. There is a wide body of literature covering the topic of rub-ber chemistry and technology but, given the size of the tire industry and its global footprint, there is surprisingly very little available on the subject of tire engineering. This text was, therefore, largely inspired by Fred Kovac’s book on Tire Technology published in 1978. Since Fred Kovac, a former Vice President for Technology at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co, published his text, very little has emerged in the public domain. One reason for this is the broad diversity found in the industry. For example, one set of technologies that is implemented by one manufacturer may not be readily adaptable by another. What works for one manufacturer seldom works for another. Apart from patent, trade secret, and proprietary constraints in adapting dif-ferent technologies, other major hurdles include differences in compound line-ups, raw material quality differences, sources of supply, tire design and construction, and manufacturing operations; everyone is different. Even within the same company, it can be challenging to manufacture the same tire construction at different plants because, when the plants were built, differences arose with respect to compound-mixing operations, component preparation equipment, tire building or curing. Though the individual influences might be small, local plant operating procedures may also impact the final quality of a tire enough to affect Original Equipment quali-fication or other performance parameters.
Given the variables in tire design, construction, and manufacturing, there is still a broad range of design principles common to all tires. The modern radial tire can still be considered in two sections, the tread or crown region and the casing. Between tire lines, such as passenger car tires and light truck tires, there are many common design features and compounds. Furthermore, the materials can be processed on the same equipment, simplifying some manufacturing operations.
This text, therefore, focuses on common principles. It is intended only as an intro-ductory handbook for the industrial and development engineer and not as a theoreti-cal treatise. It is based on much practical experience in a broad range of global tire operations from materials to design, manufacturing, and applications. In addition, it is intended to be holistic, in that design, construction, materials, and performance engineering are all covered. The focus is on practice rather than theory. Furthermore, each chapter is designed as a stand-alone review, with a glossary at the beginning of the text. Given the differences in design and manufacturing philosophies among all of the global tire manufacturers, it can offer only one perspective, most likely quite different from that of design engineers exposed to only one manufacturer. However, as a reference or troubleshooting guide, it is hoped the reader will find the text of considerable value.
Looking forward, of the many future trends discussed in the text, two, in par-ticular, merit comment. First, governments will continue to support the tire industry because of the creation and need for direct and indirect labor and, more importantly, skilled labor. As the industry automates its manufacturing operations, the demand for skilled labor will only increase. Second, is the broad area of sustainability. This has the potential to move from a broad set of general guidelines and talking points to a hard engineering discipline, focusing on tire factory water and power consumption, reductions in emissions, and the near-elimination of post-industrial waste. Along with increasing automation, successful implementation of a well-defined sustainabil-ity program could therefore lead to improved production efficiencies, quality, cost reductions, and profitability. The industry, therefore, has a potentially strong future.
The compilation of a work such as this, albeit at an introductory level, is not possi-ble without the help of many people. I am especially indebted to Dr James P. Stokes, Polymers Technology Manager at the ExxonMobil Chemical Company for his sup-port over the past 18 years at ExxonMobil, to Kho Irani and Justin Grafton, also at ExxonMobil’s Polymer Technology Department, and to Derek Kato at ExxonMobil’s Law Department for his comments, to Phillip Boltan at the University of Texas in Austin for his help with the manuscript and to Allison Shatkin and Gabrielle Vernachio at CRC Press for their patience and support.
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