Tire Technology Expo 2011 once again brought the latest tire production technology to Cologne, Germany. Here are just a few of the highlights that visitors enjoyed...
We have highlighted just a few of the technologies you may have missed. Be sure to attend next year: Tire Technology Expo 2012 looks set to be even better with over 70% of space already sold before the end of this year’s event!
At Ichimaru-Giken an innovative new system to aid curing was on show .
“The concept of our gas recirculation system is quite new,” said the company’s Shinichiro Fukada. “It is being used by one Japanese tire manufacturer that we can’t name, which is reporting good performance. But now we have completed development, it is time to promote it to other people.”
Fukada explained that many curing systems struggle with temperature differentials between the upper and lower parts inside the bladder, as an even, constant temperature is what is required.
“Our concept is to circulate the gas inside the bladder to make an even temperature. If we maintain an even temperature inside the bladder it will naturally improve the quality of the tire. If you have different temperatures, you will have inconsistent quality. Our goal, and our customers’ goal, is to make the temperature even.”
The technology took almost 10 years to develop, partly because confidentiality meant that customers couldn’t provide Ichimaru-Giken with the data they needed. Instead, Fukada and his team had to visit customers to use their curing presses and gather their own data.
The Expo was a resounding success for the company, with many visitors wanting to trial the technology at their facilities.
“All the big companies and experts are here. Only experts come here who know about the curing process, so we don’t have to explain how our idea works. However, there are many different types of curing press, depending on the customer and the materials they use, so we ask them to try the device and decide if their quality improves.
“Even though one customer in Japan doesn’t give us data because it’s secret, we know the system works well because we have received repeat orders,” stated Fukada.
Steinbichler Optotechnik, a supplier of optical measuring and sensor technology, was discussing its Intact shearography tire inspection systems. Several of these systems are in use at various companies for the nondestructive testing of all types of tires, even Formula 1 tires. With its optical shearography method, Steinbichler says that tires can be inspected reliably and unambiguously to identify separations in tires and casings.
Advantages of the system include features such as fully automatic conveying systems for easy tire handling, automatic tire-size detection (no settings needed), clear result images, and automatic defect marking for easy and fast result interpretation. The dual machine layout with multiple measuring heads allows the inspection of up to 100 tires per hour from bead to bead by just one operator.
The unique Intact OTR series offers a machine concept for shearography tire inspection in vertical orientation – thus, the tires can be easily loaded/unloaded with a forklift. For inspection of the second sidewall, no tire flipping is necessary. With the development of the new Intact OTR 4300 system concept, an inspection unit for EM tires of up to 4,300mm outer diameter is now available.
Representatives at Lang were discussing their LGT-S II technology, a high-precision milling machine for the engraving of 2D- and 3D-data on tire sidewall molds in nearly every size.
To ensure safety, precision and stability, the machine body is of a heavy-duty, torsionfree, tubular steel construction filled with a vibration-reducing compound. Molds can be wet processed due to the machine’s enclosure with a collecting tray. The X- and Z-axis are located on the crosswise frame, the C-axis turns the rotation symmetrical work piece, and the B-axis needs to be selected, depending on milling spindle.
The Z-axis features weight compensation and can work with milling spindles up to 10kW and tools up to a diameter of 16mm. The machine’s body features a disc-type tool changer with 30 stations, with an optional chain-type tool changer with 50 stations.
“We now also offer the biggest spindle type for milling – not just engraving – that is 10% faster,” explained Lang's Thomas Kozian. “We are the biggest seller of this type of machine, and together with the software, it offers a complete package, which is easy to use and very good quality."
Visitors interested in wheel force sensors were intrigued by Expo newcomer A&D Technology’s range. A reason for the interest was the company’s bold claims of accuracy.
“The leaders in wheel force sensors in Europe are Kistler and MTS, but we want to enter the market,” said managing director of A&D Europe, Jurgen Brettenbeck. “And we are getting a very positive response.”
The Wheel Force Sensor (WFS) measures the three directional components of forces and three components of torque associated with each directional force while a car is on the move. The WFS has an accuracy of 0.1%, and allows for detection of the effects of rolling friction of the tire on the road, which in turn makes the analysis of the effect on a tire in relation to the energy being transferred from the tire to the car possible.
A&D states that the 0.1% accuracy is essential to analyze the effects of a tire or energy loss through a tire – a device with only 1% accuracy cannot observe these effects because the effects of rolling friction are in the order of 1%.
“What is unique is that we have a modelbased sensor approach where we don’t use a strain gauge and amplifier,” continued, Brettenbeck. “We thought about the best design for the sensor element, making it as linear as possible, and so we feed all the signals directly into a digital signal processing system. We make a model of the sensor in real time that calculates the real forces. This approach gives us better accuracy and cross-talk behavior.”
An interesting launch from Altracon was its high-speed linear friction testing (HSLFT) machine, which enables users to determine friction coefficients of rubber samples on different surfaces and under various operating conditions to predict compound and pattern influences on grip and traction performance.
The machine can simulate all relevant tire-testing conditions, with a unique linear induction motor with peak performance of 7,000N to enable sliding velocities up to 10m/s, generating accelerations up to 100m/s2. Vertical forces up to 3,500N can be applied to cover the full operating range of passenger car and truck tires.
Test conditions such as asphalt, concrete, snow, ice, and aquaplaning can all be simulated. For greater accuracy, the machine can be installed in a climate chamber, allowing a temperature range from -15°C to +40°C. Optional integrated equipment is available, including an integrated highspeed camera for evaluation of slip and block bending, a thermograph to measure stress facts, or a high-resolution surface scanner for a topographic characterization of applied surfaces.
Another technology being launched at the Expo was the TreadReader, a batterypowered hand-held laser measurement tool designed to improve commercial tire management and reduce fleet fuel, tire and breakdown costs, reduce CO2 emissions and improve road safety. The reader, developed by Sigmavision, is designed to replace manual tire inspection and can quickly obtain complete 3D tire scans just by passing the device over the tread. The device, together with its analysis software, can automatically measure tread depth to <0.2mm accuracy, identify tire wear modes, diagnose tire/vehicle/driver faults, and predict the remaining service lifetime of tires.
Launching the TreadReader at Tire Technology Expo 2011 has opened up new avenues for the company.
“A lot of people from retreading companies have visited us,” commented development manager Bjorn Gustavsson. “We hadn’t thought of that and it’s a nice feedback. “They want to work out when they should retread a tire – and at the moment that is down to interpretation and eye evaluation. We hadn’t thought that it could be used for retreaders, but that’s the feedback we’re getting here. “The more people we meet, the more options and the more opportunities are coming out. There is a lot of money to be saved if tires are managed correctly.”
Sigmavision also found that tire test engineers are interested in using the device in the field, so instead of returning to base for tire analysis, they can stop, run a quick scan, and continue driving, then review the data at the end of the day.
“With the analysis software, you don’t just get tread depth, as the TreadReader scans the whole width and tells you how the tread is changing. We want to take the human interpretation out of tread analysis. You don’t need a depth gauge or to work out where to measure the depth. You scan it the same way every time and it is very repeatable,” added Gustavsson.
Following its acquisition by Bosch Rexroth in 2008, drive and control specialist Hägglunds Drives was keen to demonstrate the advantages to its customers at Tire Technology Expo 2011: greater resources with regard to experience, technological expertise, solutions, and local and global service throughout their combined international network. The company’s range of drive and control products will continue to be sold under the Hägglunds name.
SICK was showing visitors how tires could be identified using the OPS890 barcode reading system. The system comprises eight CLV490 line scanners arranged to reliably detect the barcode on the tire bead.
The reading system is triggered by two WL18 (A) photoelectric reflex sensors that are arranged in an X-shape in the reading zone to reliably detect the tire. Two further WL18 (B) photoelectric reflex sensors, arranged one over the other, provide fast pre-adjustment of the code reader’s focus position. The large depth of field of the devices does not require any further adjustment.
Many visitors looking for solutions to conveying problems consulted Piet Herder, tire industry segment manager at conveyor belt specialist Ammeraal Beltech, who was explaining the latest developments.
“Many tire manufacturers have wheels in their manufacturing units and they use plastic foil to separate the rubber,” explained Herder. “You can only use this foil once or maybe twice and then you have to throw it away or recycle it. But at this year’s expo we showed a product that you can use for up to four years, for thousands of cycles.
“Every tire manufacturer wants to do something about sustainability and take care of the environment. This looks after the environment in that instead of throwing away plastic foil, you can use a more sustainable solution that lasts for four years. There are two options: either it’s made of a coated fabric or an impregnated fabric. PP foil is cheaper, but this is cheaper after just one year.”
Herder was also discussing the Silam range of belts, which have been specifically designed for the needs of the tire industry, yet surprisingly contain silica. “Tire manufacturers don’t like silicone belts because they are afraid of the risk that the silicone will contaminate the rubber and produce a weak tire,” Herder explained. “But we had tire manufacturers test our Silam belts so they could see that they don’t contaminate the rubber.”
A lot of research and development went into making these silicone belts safe for the industry, because the company felt the benefits in terms of combining high friction and non-stick characteristics was worth it.
“As this is a non-stick solution, the belts last much longer, but it also has high friction, which is good for mixing,” said Herder. “High friction and non stick, it’s difficult to achieve!”
LMI Technologies was proudly showing its Gocator 2000 family of laser displacement sensors, which were shortlisted in the Tire Technology International Awards for Innovation and Excellence. These sensors make 3D measurement of features such as width, thickness or angle simple to setup and operate, as they are designed to deliver flexibility and performance right out of the box. To this end, every Gocator comes with a built-in web application so no additional software is required, and the user can go from the simplified connection, to configuration, to measurement within minutes. A variety of standoff and measurement ranges is also available.
Chemicals specialist Chem-Trend was demonstrating its MonoLube inside tire paints. Doug Butcher was on hand to explain, “Runflats have special requirements, as air can get trapped between the curing bladder and the innerliner during curing. With these coatings, we allow the user to use a lower coating weight so the inside of the tire gets a good appearance, but still get enough air bleed to get low-profile difficult sections out of the mold without any trapped air. That’s attractive because these tires are costly to make and sell at a premium.”
The company was also showing its MonoCoat bladder coating, a roomtemperature curing coating, which, according to Butcher, “is somewhat unique because most other coatings need to be baked on to the bladder. It is a very tough, high abrasion-resistant film, which provides protection to the bladder surface against chemical and abrasive attack to make sure that this area, especially the bead, is protected. Our customers are recording a bladder life increase of anywhere between 15 and 40%. That sounds a big range, but if the bladder is a good fit to the inside of the tire then there is less room to improve bladder life.”
Alfamation was showing its new X-Raptor passenger car radial (PCR) tire testing machine, which, the company claims, brings next-generation technology to the inspection and quantitative control of tires.
The X-Raptor features specially developed software that produces test results that can be easily understood by users and enables simple, reliable, and accurate controls.
“The X-Raptor’s footprint is 35% smaller than other machines,” stated president of Alfamation, Mauro Arigossi. “This means that manufacturers can easily install the machine in plants with less available space. In creating the innovative design of the X-Raptor and our advanced Automated Defect Recognition (ADR) software, we achieved cost reductions that we pass on to our customers, ultimately offering a more cost-effective product than others on the market.”
Though only introduced at the expo, the X-Raptor is already in use by a major tire manufacturer for Formula 1 cars. Other major tire manufacturers are also are looking at installing the machine at their tire production plants, according to the company. In addition to a reduced footprint, the X-Raptor’s volume and weight are at least 50% less than tire testers. This compact form-factor makes it ideal for integration in manufacturing lines or for moving to offsite locations to test tires in batch mode.
With in-line operation, each tire coming from the line is automatically centered and measured using high-precision light sensors. In offline use, the X-Raptor can be paired with a manual tire loader in which the tire is loaded and unloaded on the same side of the machine. With the ADR software installed, each tire image is automatically analyzed and any flaws are shown to the operator. It can detect faults including belt centering, belt width, cord angle, cord spacing, and foreign bodies. Engineers can configure the software for use with a human operator, or in a fully automated mode in which the software makes the pass/fail decision. The cycle time is up to 15 seconds per tire in its basic working mode.
LKY’s mobile CO2 mold-cleaning machine has been designed to enable removal of residue from inside the tire mold within 30 minutes, without removing the mold from the curing press. The machine uses pure CO2 pellets at a temperature of -78°C, which are then propelled into the hot tire mold by a stream of compressed air, via a nozzle.
Once the pellets hit the residual layer inside the mold, all remaining grime turns brittle as a result of the extreme difference in temperature, and is removed from the mold surface by the impact of the pellet blast. During this process, the CO2 becomes gaseous.
A specially designed soundproof feature inside the machine restricts noise emission at close range to as little as 84dB(A).
FACTS Inc was showing the latest in its array of measurement technology, the Shadow Measurement Eddy (SME) Gauge System, which can measure the true total thickness for both calendered rubber such as innerliners, and textile calendered fabric. The radiated signal is non-nuclear, and non-ionizing so it is safe for humans and requires no special licensing.
The system incorporates non-nuclear scanning technology and measures from one side of the moving web. This technology can be used alone or in conjunction with the company’s On-Cal 3 gauges to provide an overall, high-performance calender gauge control solution. This system scans the overall fabric and compensates for shrinkage. Because compound has no effect on the measurement, and due to its non-nuclear, non-ionizing nature, the measurement capabilities of this system are claimed to be easy to implement, and easy to live with. The cost of ownership is minimized since wipe tests, field surveys, and a radiation safety officer associated with radiation gauges are eliminated.
The SME Gauge is ideal for applications such as roller head and profile calendars where it is not practical to place gauges on the calender rolls.
Users of Micro- Poise’s Astec Plus passenger tire uniformity machines were interested in its new automatic rim changing (ARC) mechanism, which is now available as an option.
The ARC is designed to enable fully automatic change of rims (tooling) without any manual operator intervention. The design allows for safe and efficient rim changing and storage of multiple sets of upper and lower rims – the system keeps track of tooling sizes in the storage facility.
The Astec Plus knows which tire type is entering the machine and, using that information, the ARC system can automatically choose and exchange the appropriate rim set for the tire type.
The Tire Technology Expo Conference is always a draw for visitors, and the 2011 event was no exception, having attracted record numbers of delegates.
The high-profile list of speakers included the newly appointed head of Goodyear’s Luxembourg Technical Center, Marc Junio, as well as senior engineers, scientists and researchers from industry giants such as BMW, VMI, Nissan, Audi, Kumho, Nynas, Michelin, Bridgestone, Apollo Vredestein, Continental, and Fiat.
As if this wasn’t enough of a learning opportunity, the ever-popular Short Course on the Behavior of Rubber Materials, organized by Queen Mary, University of London and TARRC; and the Tire Mechanics Short Course, courtesy of the University of Akron, were also fully subscribed.
“All sorts of customers have been here at the stand and we have made a thick book of interested companies, with some big names interested to see what we can do.”
Jonas Lundberg, Reosense
“For me the expo is a good place
to meet all our suppliers, concentrating in
two days what would take two to three
weeks travelling around the world. I can
have 30 meetings in a short time.”
Alfredo Balini, tire mold manager, Pirelli
“It’s a useful
expo. It’s like a family – and everyone
knows everyone – it’s nice.”
Thomas Kozian, Lang
“We’ve had a lot of interest here and are very satisfied. Also all the people visiting the booth have something interesting – a problem or a project – that needs to be solved. We’re very satisfied.” Piet Herder, Ammeraal Beltech
“We have had a very good show this year. We’re very pleased. [Day one] was the best start to the show – it was particularly busy. We’ve had as many visitors on the first day as we usually get on the middle day, and we followed that with a particularly good morning. We got hit heavy before lunch and even through lunch, but we’re not complaining. We’ve had a good year. We’ve already booked for 2012 so that tells you how good it is.” Doug Butcher, Chem-Trend
“We have had a lot of interest here. This is our sixth time here and a lot of people come here to talk to us. It is also interesting to talk to the other exhibitors because in their measuring systems and measuring heads they use these kinds of products. So we have not just visitors interested in our products, but also exhibitors who use them in their machines and I can also talk to them, so it’s ideal for us.” Stefan Frei, sales office manager, Z-laser
“We find this event very positive for us because the quality of visitors is very high. We have had quite a number of customers here and we look forward to more. We have been participating in the expo for five years now, and are quite happy with the event. We are also happy to see the event is growing and is gaining popularity. We can see our major customers here, including CEOs, and we can discuss future business.” Wolfgang Schöffl, Oerlikon Saurer
“People have been very interested in our technology. This show is worth coming to, and we will come back next year.” Jurgen Brettenbeck, MD, A&D
“The combination of in-depth technical presentations combined with a booth is really the very best way for a small company like Bogimac to get known by the big players. We had them all coming to our booth discussing in depth, sometimes for many hours, the subject we are dedicated to. It really pays off to present in-depth technical content instead of commercial stuff, because the Tire Technology Expo audience comes especially for that” Philippe van Bogaert, Bogimac
“We have met a lot of experts here. Everyone who comes to this show knows what they’re talking about” Mr Shinichiro Fukada, Ichimaru-Giken Co. Ltd
“Tire Technology Expo has steadily gained momentum and quality since its inception about 10 years ago, and is a perfect and welcome platform for networking and refreshing contacts with tire producers and industry associates alike. Keep up the momentum.” Hans-Georg Meyer, Vice President, Rubber Division, KraussMaffei Berstorff GmbH
“It’s a great exhibition and the conference is good. There are lots of new technologies. I’m very excited”
Hiroshi Kadowaki, fellow at Bridgestone