The Making of a Tyre is a process centered around indepth research and design capabilities, cutting edge manufacturing, utilising highly advanced machinery in large state-of-the-art plants at Apollo. As many as 200 raw materials are combined by a unique mix of chemistry, physics and engineering to give consumers the highest degree of comfort, performance, efficiency, reliability and safety by leveraging modern technology.
The process can broadly be broken into the following stages.
Tyres are custom-designed to meet the mechanics and performance needs of a particular usage and vehicle type. The process begins with a computer, which converts the mathematics of the vehicle’s special needs into measurable specifications. A prototype tyre is then made to test the design's ability to function as per the desired characteristics. Developing a market ready, successful tyre can takes many months of testing, inspection, and quality checks by the dedicated experts that make the Apollo team.
Radial tyre manufacturing starts with different kinds of raw materials — pigments, chemicals, different kinds of rubber, cord fabrics, bead wire, and so on.
The process begins with the mixing of basic rubbers with process oils, carbon black, pigments, antioxidants, accelerators and other additives, each of which contributes certain properties to the compound.
These ingredients are mixed in giant blenders called Banbury machines operating under high heat and pressure. They blend the many ingredients together into homogenised batch of black material with the consistency of gum. The mixing process is computer-controlled to assure uniformity. The compounded materials are then sent to the next stage of processing for further processing into sidewalls, treads or other parts of the tyre.
Then the task of assembling the tyre begins. The first component to go on the tyre building machine is the inner liner, a special rubber that is resistant to air and moisture penetration and takes the place of an inner tube. Next comes the body plies and belts, which are often made from polyester and steel. Plies and belts give the tyre strength while also providing flexibility. The belts are cut to the precise angle and size specified by the tyre engineer to provide the desired ride and handling characteristics.
Bronze-coated strands of steel wire, fashioned into two hoops, are implanted into the sidewall of the tyres to form the bead, which assures an airtight fit with the rim of the wheel. The strands are aligned into a ribbon coated with rubber for adhesion, then wound into loops that are then wrapped together to secure them until they are assembled with the rest of the tyre.
Radial tyres are built on one or two tyre machines. The tyre starts with a double layer of synthetic gum rubber called an inner liner that will seal in air and make the tyre tubeless.
Next come two layers of ply fabric, the cords. Two strips called apexes stiffen the area just above the bead. Next, a pair of chafer strips is added, so called because they resist chafing from the wheel rim when mounted on a car.
The tyre building machine pre-shapes radial tyres into a form very close to their final dimension to make sure the many components are in proper position before the tyre goes into the mould.
Now the tyre builder adds the steel belts that resist punctures and hold the tread firmly against the road. The tread is the last part to go on the tyre and is pressed firmly together by automatic rollers. The end result is called a "green" or uncured tyre, ready for inspection and curing.
The curing press is where tyres get their final shape and tread pattern. Hot moulds like giant waffle irons shape and vulcanise the tyre. The moulds are engraved with the tread pattern, the sidewall markings of the manufacturer and those required by law.
Tyres are cured at over 300 degrees for 12 to 25 minutes, depending on their size. As the press swings open, the tyres are ejected from their moulds onto a long conveyor belt that carries them to final finish and inspection bay.
If anything is wrong with the tyre at this stage it is rejected. Some flaws are caught by an inspector's trained eyes and hands; others are found by specialised machines
Inspection doesn't stop at the surface. Some tyres are pulled from the production line and x-rayed to ensure tyre integrity. In addition, quality control engineers regularly cut apart tyres by random selection and study every detail of their construction that affects performance, ride or safety.
This is how all of the parts come together: the tread and sidewall, supported by the body, and held to the wheel by the rubber-coated steel bead.
The basics for all tyres are fundamentally the same: steel, fabric, rubber, and lots of work and care, design and engineering.