AKRON — For the record, Michelin North America Inc.'s Steve Cron isn't a big fan of the name given to the product that has defined much of his 30-year career in the tire industry.
That product is the Tweel, the tire maker's easily recognizable product that combines a non-pneumatic tire with a polyurethane spoked wheel, and Cron was co-inventor of the technology with friend and colleague Tim Rhyne, who retired from Michelin last year.
"It's one of those things where someone just blurted out one day, 'It's like a tire and a wheel. It's a Tweel,' " Mr. Cron recalled. "It wasn't very popular, but once something like that sticks, it's hard to change it."
The senior principal product research engineer at Michelin North America Inc. has lived full time with the Tweel for the last 17-18 years, most of that with Mr. Rhyne. The two followed the Tweel from concept, through years of research, trial and error, and a premature showing in 2005 at the North American International Auto Show. That was followed, though, with applications in a wide range of non-automotive uses and Michelin's opening of a production facility in South Carolina dedicated to manufacturing the Tweel.
For his role in the development of this well-recognized Michelin product and his continued research into the next generation of non-pneumatic tire technology, Mr. Cron was presented with the 2018 Harold Herzlich Distinguished Technology award during the International Tire Exhibition & Conference last month in Akron.
Rubber & Plastics News presents the award in recognition of Harold Herzlich, who served as chairman of ITEC's technical program from the event's founding in 1994 until 2016 and was RPN's technical editor for 25 years before retiring at the end of 2017.
Long R&D journey