How is a tyre made?
Tread, sipes, bead wires, casing ply, etc. These are all terms you need to know to understand the structure of a tyre.
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A tyre is a composite product. It is a complex assembly of rubbers, steel cables and textile fibres such as nylon or polyester. These materials are not glued but bonded using chemical reactions usually called vulcanisation. Let’s take a closer look at each of these components:
Inner tubes have long disappeared from tyres. They have been replaced by a thin sheet of synthetic rubber hermetically sealed against the air.
Body ply (or casing ply)
This is the frame of the tyre. It is comprised of textile fibre cables arranged in straight arches and glued to the rubber. These cords are an essential element in the tyre’s structure, enabling it to resist pressure.
Heel and bead
This is the tyre moulding. The beads are used to anchor the tyre on the rim. They are build to withstand pressure.
This is the part of the tyre in contact with the rim. Its role is to ensure that the tyre is well sealed and to transmit the vehicle’s acceleration and braking.
This is the lateral part of the tyre. Made of flexible rubber, the sidewalls protect the tyre against shocks which can damage the casing (kerb impacts, etc.). This is where to find the tyre's markings.
They cover the crown ply and are used to stabilise the profile of the tyre under the effects of speed and to reduce heating. They are reinforced with wires, usually made of nylon, arranged circumferentially around the tyre so as not to stretch under centrifugal force.
Reinforced with thin, strong steel cables, the crown plies are laid crossways and glued to each other. The crossing of the wires with those of the casing makes a network of triangles that give rigidity to the top of the tyre.
This is the part of the tyre in contact with the road. The tread must very durable. The compound it is made of must grip all types of surfaces, resist wear and abrasion and heat very little.
The channels and grooves on the tread are used to evacuate water from the road. They are sized according to the type of tyre.
Who invented the tyre: Michelin or Dunlop?
The first tyre factory was created in 1889 by the Scotsman John Boyd Dunlop. It was located in Dublin, Ireland. A short time later, the Frenchmen André and Edouard Michelin developed a removable tyre for the bicycle.