Ever more determinant in today’s motorsports, tires are fruit of constant research, high technology, thousands of kilometers worth of tests, and a myriad of materials... With the help of Le Cont, the Italian producer headed by brothers Valter and Sergio Cont, we unveil the “perfect” tire recipe
the starting point of tire manufacturing are fabric cords: manufacturers choose textiles based on the desired features of the final product. Before being bonded with the rubber compound that forms the actual tire tread, the fabric cords are pre-treated with a thin layer of adhesive rubber (only the big tire manufacturers do this operation in-house; smaller companies receive the fabric cord already finished) and are then cut into large diamond-shaped pieces. This elements, together with bead wire loops and bead filler “wedges”, form the “carcass” or the basic structure of the tire. Once the sides are reinforced with a thin layer of rubber to form the sidewall, the structure is then covered in tread, which (like the bead filler and the sidewall) is made of a rubber compound specifically formulated to yield the desired performance features.
Three elements play an even role inside the Banbury, the machine that mixes together the various ingredients of the rubber compound. The first in line are polymers (in the form of paste or grains), which include natural rubber and synthetics derived from hydrocarbons. A great deal of tire research and development is concerned with finding the best polymers for every given type of compound, but also figuring out how to get the same quality mesh starting from less expensive polymer solutions.
The second ingredient is carbon black, a synthetic material obtained from petrolium that takes the form of small grains. Once these are pulverized by the Banbury, it’s time to feed oils into the mixer. Oils are basically of three kinds: aromatic, naphtenic, and paraffinic, breakdown further into smaller subdivisions based on viscosity.
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