Mixing Lab | Continental

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R&D LABS

HIGH-TECH PRODUCT TYRES

Mixing Lab

Tyres are a truly high-tech product, each one the result of thousands of hours of work. It all begins in the mixing room, where the entire production process is replicated. But rather than making actual tyres, the mixing lab produces the vulcanised test pieces used in lab tests. These rubber sheets, rings and thin rods are produced to the exact recipes specified by the materials development department, but their shape and geometry is optimised for the relevant testing methods and equipment. The test pieces are sent to R&D departments such as the Compound Testing Lab, Chemical Testing Labs and Special Labs, where the appropriate tests are carried out.

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The basic ingredients that go into a tyre compound include synthetic and natural rubbers, silica, technical carbon black, sulphur, zinc oxide, oils and resins.

Mixing Lab

Creating the perfect blend

The basic ingredients that go into a tyre compound include synthetic and natural rubbers, silica, technical carbon black, sulphur, zinc oxide, oils and resins. These ingredients are weighed out – in some cases to a precision of one thousandth of a gram – and blended together to create a compound. Around 1,000 ingredients are available, in different grades and types. The lab also has the capability to make novel recipes and innovative raw materials such as the sustainable dandelion rubber Taraxagum.

 

The mixing room thus acts as a technical bridge between the materials development team and the various testing departments.

Mixing Lab

Making the test pieces

The uncured compounds are produced in special internal mixers of various sizes, allowing the Mixing Lab to make smaller or larger quantities of compound as required. Standard processes are then employed to roll out the uncured compounds before they are cut to size and vulcanised in curing presses at the specified temperature. Colloquially known as the “baking time”, the duration of the vulcanisation process is also critically important. Within the tyre development process, the Mixing Lab is responsible for continuous optimisation and quality assurance. This includes testing the quality of raw materials such as resins, oils and carbon black; all raw materials undergo extensive quality testing before they are approved for use in tire production. The mixing room thus acts as a technical bridge between the materials development team and the various testing departments.

Material testing

Every year, the mixing room prepares several thousand compounds. These are used to produce thousands of test pieces that subsequently undergo a range of different material tests. The main focus of the development process is on the tyre tread. However, test pieces are also produced for the sidewall and casing, where the emphasis is on the bond between rubber and metals or synthetic fibres.

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