Want to Become a Mechanic? Check Out the History of Automobile Tires
November 9, 2016
The history of car design gets talked about all the time, but the history of tire design? That’s a topic that gets a bit less attention.
Though the basic design of tires has remained fairly constant, tires have still undergone a few changes since they were introduced. They have become better at absorbing shocks, cheaper to produce, and good for specialized settings. New tire technology could also lead to big changes in the automotive business.
If you’re interested in working with automobiles, you might also be interested in learning a bit more about tire technology and its history. Here are some important highlights.
The First Automotive Maintenance Technicians Worked With Rubber Air-filled Tires
Though solid rubber tires did exist when the first cars appeared (and still do), the first automobiles used air-filled tires similar to the ones we use today. Also called “pneumatic” tires, air-filled tires are not quite as durable as solid rubber tires, and obviously run the risk of being flattened by a puncture.
The important advantage air-filled tires have over solid tires is that the air does a great job of helping deal with bumps on the road. Solid rubber tires make for a less comfortable ride.
The pneumatic tire proved popular, and a good enough solution for getting around. In fact, you’re likely to see this kind of tire almost exclusively when you start out in your automotive career.
Synthetic Rubber Made Tires More Common and Affordable
Students who want to become a mechanic might know that modern car tires are mostly made from synthetic rubber, but that wasn’t always the case. For the first few decades of car history, tires were only made from actual, natural rubber.
Natural rubber comes from tree sap, and though more durable and effective than most synthetic rubber, it is also more expensive to produce. In 1932, the Du Pont company developed a process that made creating synthetic rubber very affordable, and tire companies began using the material for their products. This drove down the cost of producing tires. Unsurprisingly, most of the tires you will encounter in your career will include synthetic materials.
Though natural rubber is still used to add extra durability and flexibility to modern tires, synthetic rubber continues to be hugely important in keeping the cost of car tires down.
After You Become a Mechanic, Expect a Huge Shift in Tire Design
The basic formula behind tires has not changed too much, but incremental design improvements have made tires better for certain situations. Winter tires allow cars to remain safer in cold conditions, and changes in tread design have allowed for improved handling and turning. These might be small improvements, but students interested in becoming an automotive maintenance technician can expect a much bigger change in the near future: airless design.
New airless tires could use durable plastic spokes on the interior to retain structure, and then a ring of rubber on the outside to provide traction on the road. The intention is to retain the same driving experience we enjoy now, but reduce the need for maintenance, and cut down on waste. Flat tires would also become a thing of the past.
This design has been talked about and shown off for years, with no viable products hitting the market yet. Still, odds are good that you might encounter airless tires at some point in your auto mechanic career.
Do you want to become an auto mechanic in Montreal?
Contact an advisor at Automotive Training Centres today to get started!
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