The Mixing Lab is capable of replicating the entire rubber pro- duction process for tyres. However, instead of producing tyres, it generates test pieces exactly in accordance with the recipes from the materials development department.
Rubber, one of the most fascinating materials in existence, is vis- coelastic. In its basic, uncured state, it can be plastically shaped like modelling clay. Once vulcanised, its elasticity becomes dominant, and it can be stretched before snapping back into its original shape. Depending on the rubber compound recipe, rubber can exhibit either resilient or energy absorbing behaviour.
The properties of a material are not determined simply by the sum of its ingredients, but also by how they interact with one another. Continental’s Special Labs provide revealing insights into such “structure-property relationships”.
Three key factors come into play when it comes to designing tread patterns and sidewalls: firstly, new tyre models are usually successor products whose appearance must be different enough to emphasize the new and innovative aspects so they can set themselves apart from their predecessors.
The cutting workshop at Hanover-Stöcken is the only one of its kind in the world, so its work is commissioned by Continental tyre developers from every region. The cutting workshop's USPs (Unique Selling Propositions) are its great flexibility and the speed, with which it can produce test tyres.
One of the primary tasks of the Characteristics Indoor department as a DAkkS-accredited test laboratory is to measure and verify a tyre's dynamic rolling resistance in line with the requirements of the EU Tyre Label.
How can tyre road noise be reduced effectively? Finding this out is the job of the Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH) Lab team. This is an important task given that the interaction of tyres with the road is one of the main contributors to traffic noise.
The non-destructive testing (NDT) group includes shearography, computerised tomography and X-ray analysis. Shearography is a laser-assisted, optical measurement method which is capable of revealing irregularities such as air bubbles in the tyre.
As its name would suggest, the Destructive Tyre Analysis department takes the whole tyre to pieces to identify, analyse and evaluate faults in the casing, the sidewall or the overall tyre structure.
In the past, simulations were mainly used in the tyre sector as an additional product development method, to complement testing. Today, simulation methods have become far more reliable and precise.