No one has a crystal ball for the moment when tires will break down, but Endurica certainly has a well-educated guess.
The Northwestern Ohio firm continues to draw attention for its simulated tire evaluation capabilities, this time from the Department of Energy for its work on tire tread pattern predictions.
"Where it was originally only possible to model a tire cross-section with a few hundred finite elements and days of computing time, today tire models are routinely solved having hundreds of thousands of elements, or even millions, in hours," Mars said.
"Simulation will never completely replace physical testing, but it will make it much easier to hit testing standards on the first prototype tire build."
Endurica was selected July 14 as a partner with Utah-based Coreform in the DOE project to explore simulated tire tread patterns, a crucial step in understanding tires emerging in the electrical vehicle space.
Coreform's computer simulation technology, known as isogeometric analysis, replaces the complex and time-consuming portions of computer simulation that are traditionally done through finite element analysis.
"Where there is alignment of broad society interests in energy and environmental issues with emerging capabilities like IGA, it makes sense for DOE to invest in high-risk, high-return technologies," Mars said. "Tire companies are often reluctant to be the first to take risks on unproven technology, so this funding really helps get over the initial hurdles."
Specifically, Endurica will apply Coreform's IGA in rolling resistance, heat buildup and wear behavior in tire treads. According to Mars, the software developed by Coreform "provides greater design clarity and detail" than finite element analysis.
The company will be able to provide key tire performance evaluations to the entire industry once testing is complete.
"Coreform's isogeometric analysis is going to make it much easier for tire companies to simulate tread pattern in full detail," Mars said. "In the past, much of the complex tread pattern has been neglected in analysis. The geometrical complexity was just too much for traditional methods, resulting in huge jobs."
Rubber part development has been a game of steady, iterative and incremental progress "for a very long time," Mars said.
But the rapid growth of EVs has been a major disruptor.
"Electric vehicle companies are really pushing the envelope and asking the most of tire and vehicle simulation technology," Stackpole said. "They've got a big job ahead of them in terms of getting new vehicles out there without any of the legacy data that the other players can rely on, so they've really embraced the virtual development model."
Mars said EVs bring "radically different design requirements."
"It is arguably the largest disruption that has come along since simulation has arrived," Mars said.
"Now that simulation is well-established, and now that there is heavy pressure on development agendas to get these designs right on the first try, it makes complete sense that they go together."
And if safety can be maintained, sustainability will follow.
"I couldn't begin to guess how many development tires we built and tested back in the early nineties," Stackpole said. "We had lots of experience with compounding and recipes, but no one really knew what to expect from a performance standpoint until the tire was built.
"Transitioning to this virtual development methodology results in not only cost savings, but a tremendous reduction in terms of the physical tires we would have to build, test and toss in those early days."