The tire technology related with the computational mechanics is reviewed from the standpoint of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Yesterday: A finite element method was developed in the 1950s as a tool of computational mechanics. In the tire manufacturers, finite element analysis (FEA) was started applying to a tire analysis in the beginning of 1970s and this was much earlier than the vehicle industry, electric industry, and others. The main reason was that construction and configurations of a tire were so complicated that analytical approach could not solve many problems related with tire mechanics. Since commercial software was not so popular in 1970s, in-house axisymmetric codes were developed for three kinds of application such as stress/strain, heat conduction, and modal analysis. Since FEA could make the stress/strain visible in a tire, the application area was mainly tire durability.
Today: combining FEA with optimization techniques, the tire design procedure is drastically changed in side wall shape, tire crown shape, pitch variation, tire pattern, etc. So the computational mechanics becomes an indispensable tool for tire industry. Furthermore, an insight to improve tire performance is obtained from the optimized solution and the new technologies were created from the insight. Then, FEA is applied to various areas such as hydroplaning and snow traction based on the formulation of fluid–tire interaction. Since the computational mechanics enables us to see what we could not see, new tire patterns were developed by seeing the streamline in tire contact area and shear stress in snow in traction.Tomorrow: The computational mechanics will be applied in multidisciplinary areas and nano-scale areas to create new technologies. The environmental subjects will be more important such as rolling resistance, noise and wear.