GVD’s president Hilton Pryce Lewis discusses curing and tire design challenges, and highlights the company’s latest mold release technology, which combines the advantages of several different solutions
Tell us about the new coating technology you’ve developed for tire molds.
We observed that tire manufacturers are under tremendous pressure to achieve higher performance, better fuel efficiency and longer life times, which requires the use of advanced compounds and complex tread patterns, with rubbers that are stickier than ever and 3D features that are difficult to demold.
Our aim was to develop a long-lasting, ‘hands-off’ release coating that would help manufacturers improve their productivity, reduce quality issues, and save on manufacturing costs. When we looked at the conventional technology that was available to manufacturers, we felt there was an opportunity to improve in many ways.
How does it work?
GVD’s RapidRelease coating is applied using a vapor deposition process, which grows a very thin coating from a gas directly on the surface of the mold. It uses an automated process to control all parameters and stop the process when a target thickness is reached. This is very different from traditional ‘spray-and-bake’ coatings that require a mold to be hand-sprayed with a liquid material and then cured – often at very high temperatures (up to 400°C).
How easy was it to develop?
This technology was originally developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the USA. While the concept was proved early on, it required many years and significant funding to perfect the process, scale it up, and transform into a viable commercial process. Qualifying it with tire manufacturers has been demanding, but fortunately we now have many years of commercial validation both in terms of performance and cost-effectiveness.
What are its key advantages?
RapidRelease is a permanent mold release coating. During the life of the coating, which is typically thousands of cures, the mold does not need to be cleaned. This saves cost and maximizes press uptime, allowing more tires to be produced.
Lower release forces and less fouling mean an improvement in quality and yield due to a reduction in scrap and repair rates. The coating process is very versatile, since no liquids or solvents are used and the mold stays cool throughout the coating process. This makes it compatible with all common cleaning practices, vent designs and mold types and materials.
Are there any other developments at GVD that you can tell us about?
GVD is expanding its footprint and plans to have a European sales and service office up and running by 2017. This will give us the opportunity to capitalize on worldwide interest in our coatings, and in particular to target the substantial market for winter tires in Europe. Beyond Europe, we are also aiming to reach the Asian market to ensure that our customers can access this technology on a global basis.
May 4, 2016