Chelsea Technologies Group works with leading tyre company to investigate using a fluorescence measurement to improve efficiency on their production line. One of the final processes in the manufacture of a tyre is the moulding of the tread and vulcanization of the rubber. This process involves inflating a rubber bladder inside the tyre using superheated water within a mould press. The continual inflation and deflation of the bladder, combined with potential chemical contamination and dissolved oxygen in the water supply, eventually leads to a degradation of the bladder rubber and its failure. When this happens the moulded tyre does not vulcanize properly in the area of the failure.
Catastrophic bladder failure is audible, so wastage can be kept to a minimum, typically a single tyre per incident. Pinhole leaks in the bladder, however, make up 60% of failures and can only be detected when the tyre is cool enough to be manually inspected. By this stage a number of additional tyres will have been moulded, which all have to be scrapped.
To try to solve the problem fluorophore was introduced into the water supply as a marker to identify bladder leaks during the moulding process. A sensor is then used to scan the inner surface of the tyre as soon as it comes off the press. By detecting any leaks early it is possible to significantly reduce wastage by stopping the press automatically and raising an alarm.
Chelsea’s fluorescence monitoring sensors have been used in process control, marine, defence and bio-medical markets. For more information, please contact Ellen Keegan, Communications Manager, Chelsea Technologies Group, Tel +44 (0)20 8481 9019.