The Tyre Manufacturing Process
Although there is no ‘set in rubber’ tyre manufacturing process, we can begin to take a look at a crude rendition in order to better understand the intricacies of producing ‘shoes for cars’. What’s more, since tyres are partially responsible for the steering, braking, and handling of your car, it can make us feel a little more at ease to understand the complexity and exhaustive nature of the operation on the whole.
Here at Longbridge Tyres, we have spent the last 20 years fitting tyres to vehicles in and around Birmingham and Solihull, which means we are experts when it comes to tyres. We have, therefore, put together a quick guide to the tyre manufacturing process below.
To truly understand the tyre manufacturing process, it is necessary to be familiar with the main components that tyres comprise of.
Rubber compound – forms the ‘outer layer’ of the tyre and is made up of natural and synthetic rubber, as well as carbon black and other materials.
Bead wires – made from braided steel coated in rubber, these wires are used to create an air-tight seal between the tyre and the wheel rim.
Plies – there are various types of these serving different purposes (casing ply for strength, braving plies for the maximum contact patch), but they are usually made from fibre chords that are woven together and coated in rubber to make up the carcass/skeleton of the tyre.
The Crude Tyre Manufacturing Process
Blending: The rubber compound is created by blending various materials together, including the different types of rubber, in a large vat.
Milling: After this hot rubber compound has cooled it can be cut into basic shapes that will later be formed into the tyre. At this point, other components of the tyre are prepared, such as the bead wires and plies being coated in rubber.
Building: At this point in the process, all of the elements that have been prepared up until this point are assembled to form what is known as a ‘green tyre’, which is just the first rendition of the tyre that somewhat resembles the end product.
Curing: A process called vulcanisation is now carried out, which is where a curing machine and hot moulds are used to harden/set the green tyre. If you have ever heard of ‘vulcanised’ rubber on trainers, this process is very similar as trainers are also cured to elongate the life and improve the durability of the product from the initial, natural rubber.
Inspecting: As is true with any process of manufacturing, the end products need to be inspected to ensure quality. This is even more important with tyres when we consider their responsibility for keeping cars on the road. Inspection of tyres includes specialist equipment and trained professionals, some tyres are even taken from a ‘batch’ and subject to x-ray and being cut open to ensure the internals are sound.
A Thorough and Modern Operation
It can definitely be reassuring to understand that the process for manufacturing tyres has come a long way since they first came into use in the late 19th century, although it is reflective of the other innovations in the automotive industry.
Tyres are subject to a long list of procedures in order to be ready to handle the stressors of driving, which extends even beyond our simple run-down. The final aspect of tyres is that, when they come to the end of their life, they are particularly difficult to dispose of as a result of the complexity of their manufacture and the materials required to make them safe and effective. If you are looking to swap out your tyres, make sure the tyre dealer you are working with will recycle them to make the most of the materials in tyres and keep them out of the waste stream.