With 2,000 visitors through the door from 80 countries, plus record numbers of exhibitors, course participants and conference delegates, Tire Technology Expo 2013 was the best show yet!
“The conference brings lots of good R&D people into the show, but we also see the purchasers here,” said exhibitor, Seyfullah Bozkurt, managing director of Uzer Makina, which produced more curing presses than ever before in 2012. “They can see all the suppliers in a single place, so it’s important for us to be here.”
From Cabot Corporation’s latest high-performing reinforcement material, to VMI’s Cortexx user interface for tire machinery, to Crisplant’s brand-new, automated handling system for green tires, exhibitors used the show to present brand-new innovations to the tire design and manufacturing community.
The quest for environmentally friendlier solutions throughout the tire’s lifecycle was a major theme of both the exhibition and the conference, whether in the form of a Tire Technology International award for Bridgestone’s low-carbon development center, the mass-saving new rayon cord presented by Cordenka, or the cutting-edge tire recycling technologies from the likes of Pyrolyx and HungaroJet.
“We had organized in advance some meetings at the show with testing partners, but we had at least the same number of new enquiries as well, not just from Europe, but also Korea and the Middle East,” said HungaroJet’s COO, György Moldován.
As ever with Tire Technology Expo, the exhibition was only part of the attraction. Some 430 conference delegates – another record – enjoyed a wide-ranging program of presentations and panel discussions featuring 120 expert speakers. One of them was Dr Arup Saha Deuri, general manager, R&D at Balkrishna Tires in India, who commented: “I had an excellent response to my conference presentation. The attendance was good and I fielded lots of questions and enquiries afterwards.”
The short courses too, were more popular than ever, one example being the explosion of interest in the Basic Rubber Compounding Course, which attracted twice as many participants as in 2012. And on the evening of the show’s middle day, 550 exhibitors, delegates and their guests took advantage of the superb networking opportunity presented by the Awards Gala Dinner.
Cabot’s new reinforcement materials
Cabot Corporation has responded to the recent rise in silica usage in passenger car tires by investing in R&D. The goal is to produce its own high-performing reinforcement material to allow it to compete with silica, particularly in the passenger car tread market, where traditional carbon black is losing market share.
The first results of Cabot’s work were revealed at Tire Technology Expo 2013 in a conference presentation by Theo Al, the company’s global director of rubber blacks technical service and application development. As can be seen from the graphic, the as-yet unnamed products offer improved, silica-style rolling-resistance performance without loss of wear or grip properties. Moreover, they’re said to be process-friendly in the style of traditional carbon black, with no coupling agents required.
Cabot’s new reinforcing agents are still in the early development phase, but have already been tested in a physical tire with promising results. Now the company is seeking market feedback before pursuing the next phases of development with key customers.
New name, more capacity for Solvay
Silica supplier Solvay presented its new name and company image to customers at Tire Technology Expo. Formerly known as Rhodia, the change reflects its acquisition in 2011 by Solvay Group, and will apply to all markets worldwide with the exception of Brazil.
With strong growth in low-rolling-resistance tires over the past few years, in both the passenger-car and truck-tire segments, Solvay’s silica production base has expanded to keep pace. In 2011-12, capacity increases of more than 10% were completed at sites in the USA and France, with further increases being considered.
Solvay has more than 150 people working in minerals R&D. It’s remaining tight-lipped on future silica product developments, but confirms that there are more innovations to come, with announcements possible once samples are with customers for production trials.
Legislation to drive naphthenic oil growth
Nynas’s naphthenic oils have long been used as softeners in tire compounds. And with good results in reducing rolling resistance, the products have been much in demand from tire companies conscious of current or future label programs. “Labeling is making a real difference,” says Nynas’s marketing manager for tires, Thorsten Lutze, “not only in Europe but also Korea, the USA and South America.”
Lutze notes that the forthcoming label legislation in Brazil also includes a low-PAH regulation similar to the one that’s already worked to Nynas’s advantage in Europe. The result, he says, will be a big change in the Latin American tire market.
With Russia also considering legislation that will demand more environmentally friendly tires, the potential market size for Nynas’s naphthenic products is set to increase. Lutze says that existing capacity could handle such a growth in demand, but that the company also hopes to add to its production capabilities in the near future.
VMI debuts new control system
VMI is at Tire Technology Expowith a huge, bright stand that reflects its new-for-2013 branding. There are important product launches, too, including Cortexx, the user-friendly control portal that comes with VMI’s new tire production equipment.
Cortexx employs the same look-and-feel for user interfaces across all machines, making it easier for operators and maintenance technicians to work across several pieces of equipment. A system of color-coding makes fault diagnosis and rectification simpler, while two-way communication options allow the likes of recipes and batch sizes to be uploaded to a machine, with production data then heading in the opposite direction for correlation with, for example, end-of-line inspection data.
4JET unveils latest laser solutions
4JET’s booth is attracting visitors at Tire Technology Expo with an eye-catching demonstration of its laser engraving technology. Showgoers can have their likeness engraved into a rubber sample by one of 4JET’s handheld laser units, working automatically from a digital photograph of the subject’s face! The easy-to-use handheld unit has been updated for 2013 with improved hard- and software. In particular, new scanner control software has been written in-house by 4JET’s technical team. Real-world applications for the unit include adding serial numbers to the truck-tire sidewalls.
Carbon-black recycling breakthrough
Following a decade of R&D to industrialize the pyrolysis process, German-based Pyrolyx has revealed that it hopes to have its first factories for the sustainable production of carbon black operational by the end of 2013. The new facilities, located in the Netherlands and the USA, have been put together in partnership with Zeppelin, which has contributed its production-plant and materials-handling expertise to the development of turnkey factory solutions. The Pyrolyx process employs a feedstock of rubber granules from waste tires, of which there is currently excess capacity in the USA. A combination of pyrolysis and depolymerization technologies then create a 45% yield of carbon black, together with oil that can be used to make yet more carbon black, and gas that’s used for power-generation in the Pyrolyx process. As such, the company claims its technology is the first closed-cycle, self-sufficient form of carbon-black production. Production tests are already underway and according to Pyrolyx’s head of IP, Holger Merz, the quality of carbon black produced has proved at least as good as that delivered by the small-scale pilot plant.