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Tyre Production 1

The important role that the tyres play on a vehicle, is impressively shown in formula 1 racing. Whereas improvements, e.g., in the aerodynamics are reflected in the lap times by tenths of seconds, the tyre improvements are responsible for reductions of whole seconds and often more. Another extreme example is the airplane tyre which when landing is brought from possibly -50°C, from the higher air layers up to 120°C at touch-down. Moreover, this is still the most often re-treaded tyre.

The above picture shows only a small number of substances which are necessary for the tyre production, in reality there can be more than 200. Whereby, the important raw material for the tyre, the natural rubber, can not be substituted. 75 percent of the world's production is designated purely for making tyres. Some producers even have their own rubber tree plantations to ensure their supply of raw material. Also very important is soot which gives not only a higher abrasion-resistance and stability, but also gives the tyre its black colour.

The production of natural rubber is a long process. After cutting the rubber trees - years after their planting - latex milk which is reddish-white in colour, pre-treated with acetic acid and pre-vulcanised, comes to Europe in the form of elastic chunks. This and the vulcanisation form the backbone of the tyre producing industry.

Vulcanisation was invented in 1839 after many throwbacks by Charles Goodyear. Through the addition of sulphur, zinc oxide (earlier lead oxide) and turpentine, a ductile, stable compound is developed. Later after treatment at a very constant temperature of approx.130°C, the sticky, still unbonded components produce a finished tyre which fulfils the requirements described above.

The production date of a tyre can, by the way, be found in the tyre code. Within the DOT identification number, a 3-figure number (pre 2000) and thereafter a 4-figure number is to be found. Whereby, the first two figures show the production week from 1 to 52 and the second two figures show the production year. These are, e.g., important tips if the tyre is to be re-treaded or is a retread. For this reason, the DOT description is normally found very near to the wheel rim. 08/08

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