The cutting workshop at Hanover-Stöcken is the only one of its kind anywhere, so the team of experts there are the first port of call for tire developers all over the world. The cutting workshop is renowned for its exceptional flexibility and the speed with which it can produce test tyres. Virtually every tyre design can be made by hand – a process that is far quicker and more flexible than using moulds due to the considerable amount of work involved with their design and production.
The characteristics of the carving workshop is enormous flexibility and speed in the production of test tyres.
The tyre cutters usually start with smooth tyres that are similar to slicks. Alternatively, series production tyres are used as a basis then custom modified. Precision is key when working on the tread, with a margin for error of just a few tenths of a millimetre. This calls for supreme concentration above all else, as a single incorrect cut can ruin days of work. All the cutting knives are produced by hand at a specially designed knife bending station.
Depending on the complexity of the tread, the costs for a tyre mould can run into five digits for just a single tyre size.
From freezing the tread pattern to manufacturing the finished tyre
Once the test tyre is ready, it’s time to make the tyre mould. Depending on the complexity of the tread, the costs for a tyre mould can run into five digits for just a single tyre size. Considering our portfolio with all its different brands and sizes spans some 6,000 tyre products, mould production requires a huge capital outlay by each tyre plant. Only once all test series have been completed after three to five years and the final tread pattern has been “frozen”, i.e. definitively set, does series production of the moulds for tyre production begin. The rubber compound can be changed again as and when required, but modifying the tread is a far more complex and costly affair. Depending on requirements, CAD-programmed robots that ensure a high level of automation and reproducibility are also used for tyre cutting.
Trade fairs, Tour de France and the World Cup
The cutting workshop’s tyres are used in many standard tread tests, while its day-to-day work also includes requests from OE customers for exhibitions and trade fairs, as well as show tyres for events such as the Tour de France and the football World Cup. An experienced tyre cutter will need approximately six hours to cut a summer tyre, whereas a winter tyre with all its fine sipes for optimum grip on snow will require about 40 hours of work. Training to be a Continental tyre cutter takes two years and the job demands great sensitivity,