The molding process is a critical step in the manufacture of pneumatic tires. It affects the design and consequently the performance of the tire. The present paper covers work aimed at analyzing the molding process using the finite element method. Specifically, the finite element code MARC is used to analyze the inflation of a curing bladder inside a rigid tire profile. Incompressible elements are used to model the bladder and GAP elements are used to simulate the contact between the two surfaces. Of primary interest is the bladder‐profile interface, namely how contact occurs at the interface and the magnitude and uniformity of the interfacial pressures. Two different bladder shapes and two different inside tire profiles are studied. Of equal importance is the ability to model this type of contact problem as it is a significant step toward analyzing the tire molding process.

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