Air filled tires are so 2015
Air filled tires have largely gone unchanged since 1955 when pneumatic tires were first introduced as standard fare on passenger cars thanks to BF Goodrich. Since then, tire companies in one way or another have tried to “build a better mouse trap.” to replace the air filled tire. Hankook announced earlier today (July 14, 2015) that its completed one of it’s initial phases of airless tire technology and research and development is continuing quite well for the Avante Garde technology.
One of the ways tire technology is pushed forward is by materials engineering. The composition of a tire allows for tires to be as hard or as soft as a manufacturer wants it to be depending on its composition. In addition, as a tire heats up and cools down, it’s properties must be kept within certain limits depending on the application to ensure maximum performance, safety, and stability. If an airless tire is ever going to succeed, it must at least match or surpass the capabilities of standard air-filled tires. According to Hankook, they’ve successfully taken an electric car up to 80 MPH, so that bodes well for their efforts.
"“The Hankook iFlex’s ability to deliver the perfect high-speed driving performance is the result of Hankook Tire’s longstanding commitment to independently developing progressive, innovative tire technology. Aiming to strengthen our technological leadership in the global tire market, we will continue to develop cutting edge eco-friendly and future-oriented tires”"
Advantages of airless tires include no downtime due to punctures and unseated beads. The technology is already alive and well thanks to some companies like Michelin who manufacturer airless tires for industrial applications where high forces aren’t exerted on the tire due to turning or high speeds. How well airless tires perform in high-stress conditions has yet to be tested, but the fact that these companies haven’t really thrown the gauntlet down in testing makes us assume that all the stresses can’t be met or surpassed against normal air filled tires. Of course can’t isn’t in the vocabulary of most R&D teams so we’ll be looking forward to how Hankook furthers this technology.