Jenoptik teams up with 4Jet to optimise tyre prototyping

Jenoptik’s Light & Production Division, together with the 4Jet Group, have developed a system that could significantly shorten development cycles and prototyping costs in tyre production.

The system uses laser prototyping technology to machine both tread and sidewall profiles into tyres, true to size and almost fully automatically from CAD data. It could replace the need to manually carve tyres using hot knives, which is both a time-consuming and cost-intensive process with technical limits.

The two firms say that the new system addresses the increasing product diversity and shorter product development cycles of the tyre industry, where producing design samples and pre-production tyres is essential.

The production of dedicated moulds by CNC milling or 3D printing usually takes place at a later stage of development. Therefore, for unique products in the early development phase, functional samples are often produced in quantities below five.

The new prototyping system from 4Jet, with integrated JenScan tyre technology from Jenoptik, uses pulsed laser processing to remove material precisely and with minimal heat impact on the tyre, with no post-processing required.

A tyre tread carved using laser technology. (Image: 4Jet)

The laser system can produce several hundred prototypes per year, meeting the growing needs of typical tyre manufacturers' development centres. Optional upgrades enable prototypes to be marked with QR codes or other tracking information. In a further expansion stage, the system can be supplemented with optics to produce laser-induced ‘shark skins’.

‘Jenoptik's technology is the perfect complement to our portfolio for laser-based tyre manufacturing systems,’ commented Florian Schreiber, vice president of sales for tyre machines at 4JET Group. ‘As a supplier to almost all leading tyre manufacturers, we can make this technology available worldwide and support it through our regional sales and service structures.’

‘We are glad to have a strong partner at our side,’ added Julio Javier Frank, vice president of sales at Jenoptik's Light & Production division. ‘Through this cooperation, Jenoptik's Light & Production division gains access to key contacts and decision makers in the tyre industry through 4JET's existing network. In particular, we are involved in prototype production for the pre-development of future tyres, where, for example, the development process for CO2 reduction and rolling resistance reduction as well as other parameters can be significantly accelerated. This partnership is a win-win situation for both our companies and complements 4JET's range of laser applications.’

Related article: Laser technology trends in automotive production