Goodyear & Sandia Labs mark 25 years of tyre design collaboration

A partnership between Goodyear Tire & Rubber and US-based engineering and science body Sandia National Laboratories, forged to improve tyre design, is quarter of a century old this month. Marking the milestone, the tyre maker notes that the joint work has helped reduce product development time and boost efficiency.

Over the past two and a half decades, the two parties have worked to create more advanced computational mechanics used in the development of high quality vehicle tyres. “You might wonder how national defence systems relate to tyre engineering,” says Susan Seestrom, Sandia’s chief research officer. “But a tyre is a complex system – one of the most formidable challenges in computational mechanics – and that’s something Sandia knows well.”

Sandia and Goodyear signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement in 1993. Commenting on the early days of the collaboration, Monson, senior manager of technology partnerships at Sandia, notes that “tech transfer was an exciting new opportunity for the labs” back then. “At the same time, Goodyear looked at our advanced computational mechanics software and saw it could be applied to tyres,” Monson adds. “Instead of building and testing three to five prototypes before a tyre was ready for manufacture, they could use our computer codes to develop one.”

The joint work allows Sandia to enhance its software toolkits and improve its capabilities for mission applications while simultaneously addressing Goodyear’s proprietary challenges. “It is remarkably complicated to model and simulate tyre performance, let alone under varying temperature, pressure and wear conditions,” shares Chris Helsel, Goodyear’s chief technology officer. “Our computational work with Sandia is a continuous source of competitive advantage for Goodyear, helping us design and deliver high-performance products and services in a digital economy.”

Goodyear credits its work with Sandia for reducing new product development times, improving manufacturing methods, and lowering both technical and operational costs, all contributing to a competitive advantage in a complex industry.

The work with Goodyear also led to a deeper appreciation at Sandia of the value of computer modelling in the early stages of development. “We showed that modelling and simulation made a difference in developing better products faster,” said Ted Blacker, Sandia’s manager of Simulation Modeling Sciences. “Our computational tools typically were used late in the process to understand why something broke and how to fix it. Now we use modelling more in the up-front stages, such as in the early design, to reduce testing.”

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