Ohio, Jan. 7, 2003 -- When someone is "on edge,"
that generally means they are nervous, angry or a bit impatient.
When design engineers at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber
Company become "edgy," it only means some innovative
tire designs are on the way.
"tread artists" are constantly challenged to devise
appealing -- but functional -- adaptations to the traditional
rubber donut that carries millions of vehicles from Point
A to B.
tire designers work their magic to develop products that
achieve the near-impossible. Their handiwork results in
tires that last longer, withstand potentially damaging obstacles
and provide high-speed performance better than ever before.
They have made possible everything from the unique center-groove
Aquatred design to amazing tires that can keep a vehicle
rolling even when all air pressure has been lost.
seemingly "wild" tire designs succeed. The unconventional
idea is not a closed door to Goodyear tire designers. To
succeed in developing exciting new products, they have to
work on the edge -- a technological edge.
still use ink on paper for some idea-sketching, but our
design work is completed on computer," said Bill
Egan, Goodyear's chief engineer for passenger tires. "And
while we experiment with many breakthrough -- even crazy
-- designs, the very specific detail work is always documented
in intensive drawings via specialized design systems."
a company, we must work on the edge to attain great things.
As designers, we must develop concepts that may or may not
work at any given time. But sometimes, yesterday's impossible
idea becomes possible today through technology -- by working
on the edge."
how Aquatred and Goodyear's EMT (run-flat) tires were developed.
The wildly different tires evolved from Goodyear's involvement
in auto racing and its concept tires on tomorrow's vehicles
at worldwide auto shows. Both
are areas where the company works on the edge.
the early 1980s, Goodyear produced a prototype tire similar
to what would become the Aquatred for General Motors' Aero
2000 concept car at Disney's Epcot Center in Florida. It
was the first tire with an aquachannel center groove to
pump water from beneath the tire for optimum wet-weather
question of whether consumers would buy a tire that offers
superior wet traction on their family sedan seems irrelevant
now, since millions of Aquatreds and its generations of
successors have been sold.
differentiation and creativity in design, as evidenced by
Aquatred, sells in the marketplace. Innovation in product
design -- setting Goodyear tires apart from the rest --
is a competitive advantage that translates into greater
sales in the fiercely competitive tire industry.
on the edge has benefits. In recent years, Goodyear has
been able to break down design barriers to open a new world
of potential performance advantages. Previously, curvature
of tire's design was impossible on the computer. Now, the
tire's inflated profile can be created on the screen, even
allowing early-stage "testing" to occur on the
computer. Without Goodyear's customized three-dimensional
software to design potential new tires, tire designers,
engineers and mold manufacturers would have had to draw
and carve all new models by hand.
"future-world" computer tools Goodyear designers
have at their disposal allows them to create tire designs
that rival some of the best of the automotive realm. While
vehicle "artists" are devising the coolest new
concept cars, their counterparts in tire design are stretching
the envelope, too.
personnel have devised actual tread patterns displaying
snakeskin, the Porsche brand shield, rocks and lightning
bolts. It's interesting to note that one of the company's
earliest and most successful designs was the diamond-shaped
tread of tires like the Goodyear All-Weather Balloon.
can decide to sketch an image onto a tire's tread,"
said Egan. "It's our job to try some of those images,
but make certain the tread design would be viable in terms
of performance and wear, along with being realistic in terms
of manufacturing. In other words, is the design worth making
and using in the real world? Is it more than just a pretty
we sketch a tread pattern on the computer screen, the software
analyzes its performance attributes, such as raction, footprint
on the roadway and tread element stiffness as the tire rolls.
The Goodyear-developed software actually tests a prospective
tire's feasibility before one is built," Egan
the obvious challenges and pitfalls in using a new process,
the more powerful computer network and software has helped
Goodyear shorten its concept-to-market cycle considerably.
The process also allows Goodyear's designers to test several
candidates on the computer, saving the time and money involved
in physically building test tires.