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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. But can all the characteristics of the subsequent tyre be  reliably and accurately predicted?

computer simulation icons

Rubber is a complicated material. Being viscoelastic, describing it in combination with other, also multilayer, components of a tyre is a very complex task.


Predicting its behaviour is therefore more complicated than for metallic materials, for  example. However, thanks not least to the digitalisation of development processes and ever-increasing hardware capabilities, simulation methods have now achieved a level of maturity that means they can increasingly be used as standard methods in the tyre sector too. Consequently, simulations are now in a position to compete with other methods. The method finally selected will be the one that is most effective and delivers the best results.

There are tyre characteristics which are relatively easy to test but difficult to simulate or which can readily be simulated but tested only with difficulty. The rolling resistance of an existing tyre can be determined relatively quickly by drum testing, while simulation would be far more complex and costly. If the aim is to predict wear under specific driving conditions for a tyre that has yet to be developed, however, testing would be extremely costly, and simulation would be the far better option.


There is currently a strong trend towards using simulation methods to assess “additional performance", particularly in relation to dynamic handling and the associated tyre characteristics.


For the tyre development process, it would be ideal if simulation could provide a preview of what the construction should look like for a tyre to be capable of achieving the desired characteristics in the best possible way using existing technology. In the real world, simulation is not yet sufficiently accurate in all areas, added to which the product is always subject to certain degree of variation in its material characteristics. This explains why the real-world development  process still necessarily includes one or two loops using existing components in order to evaluate performance.

Recent years have seen a huge increase in the range of models in the automotive industry. In addition, different customer wishes mean that each vehicle is offered with many different sizes of tyre. So, the proportion of original equipment developments (“target approvals”) is rising, despite the overall volume perhaps remaining the same or even declining. This leads to great complexity and, in particular, significant testing costs for tyre and vehicle manufacturers alike. Given the smaller volumes involved, both parties have no option but to cut their development costs per target approval substantially while still ensuring constant quality.

As a result, virtual development offers huge potential, enabling a manufacturer to combine a tyre model with their vehicle model and test and adapt them on a computer screen or in a driving simulator.