We have all heard the sayings about the cavemen who invented the wheel so it’s not a stretch to say that wheels are an invention going back millennia. However, they have undergone some changes over the years. No longer do we use chiseled stone or wooden hubs and spokes to create the required round shape. The process of making tires is also more complex. Instead of using just one material there are a variety of materials that are used to create strong efficient tires that will withstand thousands of miles on rough roads. There is also a lot of research and development that goes into creating the optimum tread for different driving conditions so that we stay while out on the road.
Most of us are familiar with modern tire manufacturers like Bridgestone, Dunlop, and Goodyear; however, to fully appreciate the science and technology that goes into modern tires we first have to look at the history of tire making .
It is easy to take for granted our rubber, air-filled tires but it is actually a fairly recent invention. Charles Goodyear did not invent vulcanized rubber until the 1840’s and it would be some time before it was used for car tires. John Dunlop didn’t invent air-filled tires until the 1880’s and then they were used for bicycles, not cars. In the early 1900’s the first successful air filled tires with an inner tube were invented and patented and many manufacturers begin experimenting and developing techniques for adding tread and prolonging the life of rubber tires.
Like any new invention there was a lot of trial and error, success and failure. Commercialized rubber tires have only been on the market for about the last 50 years. But it was through this process that many of the current tire manufacturers were created.
The tires that we know and use today are a far cry from those original rubber tires. But by knowing the history we can appreciate the dedication of tire manufacturers to provide quality tires that get us where we need to go safely and efficiently.
To understand the tire-making process better, check out this video: