Things You Didn’t Know About Tires
The wheel is regarded as man’s greatest invention recorded back to 3500 BC in the Neolithic era, just before the Bronze Age. Wear and tear was the major concern with early wheels which were usually made up of solid wood. Simple uneven wear would make the wheel no longer round and ultimately useless. There was a need for an expandable layer that would absorb shocks, and bumps, wear away and then can be easily replaced at an affordable price. That’s what we call a tire. In this article, we will go through some of the lesser-known facts about tires.
- Tires were not always filled with air. Early tires were made of solid rubber, wood, iron, or even leather. John Boyd Dunlop was the first to manufacture the air-filled tire in 1888. The air-filled tire, also called a pneumatic tire, was developed for Mr. Dunlop’s son, Jonnie. The cushioning from the air allowed the 10-year-old son to ride his bike without the headache from road bumps. This was the beginning of the pneumatic tire era. The tire’s tread was first introduced in 1905. These grooves on the surface of the tire are customized for tire performance and vehicle handling.
- Manufacturers added zinc oxide to the rubber to give it more strength. This had the side effect of turning them white. In the early 1900s another material ‘carbon black’ was added to increase the longevity and durability of tires, changing the tire color to black. The so-called white wall or vogue tires were first made in 1914. It is created when the carbon black tread is combined with a zinc white sidewall.
- Today tires are way skinnier and lighter than they used to be ‘back in the day’. Fatter and wider tires do provide better handling but skinnier tires outperform by providing lower rolling resistance, better fuel economy, and a smaller aerodynamic profile. Engineers are filling this gap by designing skinny tires with stickier tread formulations to provide better traction and cornering ability.
- Although rubber is the material used in the majority of tire construction, there are many other materials used. Some tires consist of as many as 200 different raw materials. The common materials in a tire include rubber, nylon, kevlar, and steel. Other metals like titanium and cobalt are mixed with rubber to help the compound adhere to the belt system and provide stability to the tread area. Silica and saline are used to enhance tire performance. The compound used on the outside tread provides traction and mileage. The newest addition to tires are sensors, such as Cerebrum Intelligent Tire Sensors. These provide an easy way to maintain proper traction and performance by monitoring your tire tread depth, pressure, temperature and warranty miles.
- Moving things generate static electricity. It was a real concern with vehicles in the past. Station wagons used to have a strap dragging along the road for grounding. It again became a concern with new tires with relatively softer tread compounds cutting back on the amount of carbon black. To solve the problem, many tires are now designed with an ‘antenna strip’ of conductive material at the center of the tread. This provides a positive electrical contact between the tire and the road
- An average passenger car tire weighs around 27 lbs. There are continuous efforts from tire manufacturers to cut down the weight of tires. Lighter tires produce lower rolling resistance which is preferable to high inertia from heavier tires. Bridgestone has switched to a lighter gauge of cord for steel belts, and Michelin has cut down the tread depth and switched to a tougher tread formulation for longer tread life.
- Airless tires are slowly making their way toward passenger tires. These are already used in sites where the risk of tire puncture is high. Airless tires are also used on some small vehicles such as lawnmowers and golf carts. Airless tires for passenger and truck tires use a honeycomb-style structure to maintain rigidity and carry the vehicle’s weight. Airless tires need to be replaced less frequently, they never go flat and result in saving money. They also come with some disadvantages such as higher rolling resistance and a lesser suspension in comparison with the same size pneumatic tires.
The speedy pace of current advancement in the tire industry is going to change the way we utilize tires. One such advancement has been led by Cerebrum Intelligent Tire Technologies by delivering real-time data from tires using sensors. This technology not only helps in the safety of daily drivers but also fetches raw data that is used in the technical advancement of the tires for better performance and handling.