Tyres are important. As much as we take them granted, we know this to be true. Yet there are situations where maintaining the four on the floor is not just a matter of operational efficiency, but life and death. Whether it be in mines, quarries, heavy construction, emergency response, or even the military, those in the know are outfitting their heavy duty vehicles with puncture free tires. With that in mind, let’s uncover everything you wanted to know about airless tyres, including how to spot the best puncture resistant tyres on the market today.
Whilst these tyres (or tires as is it spelt in the U.S.) have been around for 100-years, many engineers and military planners are finally waking up to the benefits of airless tyres. In fact, the earliest military vehicles had honeycomb tyres. In recent year, manufacturers, such as Crocodile Tyres in Queensland have been bringing the technology back into the market.
Even though these tyres are not meant for racing, many of the best puncture resistant tyres are designed for extreme conditions. Some can even withstand explosions or can roll over sharp objects with ease. What makes these puncture free tyres so special is that they are either airless or semi-solid. This allows the tyres to withstand the rigours of many of the extreme worksites around the world.
According to the University of Pittsburgh, there are two common types of puncture free tyres on the market today – pneumatic tyres and airless tyres. In a nutshell, pneumatic tyres have an inner core which contains high-pressure air. Whilst the best puncture free tyres are – airless. This eliminates the need for pneumatic pumps (which can also fail) and to replace tyres due to punctures.
These are the same type of tyres which NASA used on the lunar rover. Think about it, how can you fill tyres for use in space with air? The air would just leak out and create a blob in space. Not very useful for driving around on the moon. Ok, you can’t create an air blob in a mine in Western Australia, but you are not going anywhere if you get a flat tyre.
This is where airless tyres come in as they easily handle rugged terrain without puncturing. In fact, these tires are even better suited for extreme conditions than the ‘run flat’ variety. Run flats still require air. Whilst the inner lining works to strengthen the tyre during a puncture, it is only a temporary solution and they will need to be changed as soon as it is safe to do so. If you are running a mine, the costs of replacing tyres can quickly add up. As such, you need an alternative which costs less but helps to keep everyone safe.
So what makes the best puncture resistant tyres so good. First, they are designed to fit on standard pneumatic rims. This helps to reduce the investment – let’s face it, industrial tyres are quite expensive. Another important advancement is how the tyres are joined to the rim. If they are joined during the vulcanization process, then the tires will have added strength.
It is also important to look at the rubber used in puncture free tyres. Some of the best puncture resistant tyres on the market today use two different rubber compounds. This helps to give the tyres the ability to withstand the rigours of the extreme environments where they operate whilst being malleable enough to provide a comfortable ride. An added benefit of is the ability to minimise heat buildup. This helps to extend the tyres life
As mentioned many puncture free tyres have a honeycomb design. This pattern is critical to the performance of the best puncture resistant tyres and is carefully laid out based on the intended purpose of the tyre – such as a skid steer loader or a bobcat.
In fact, some manufacturers are working on bringing puncture free tyre designs to the consumer market. Whilst this will be helpful for hunting in the outback, the best puncture resistant tyres can be found in Australia’s mines. That is because the conditions are so extreme and safety is at such a premium that operators can’t risk to go with anything else.
But is it not just mines. You can find airless tyres being put to the test on drill rigs, at scrap yards, and even by the military. As you can imagine the military is driven by the need to equip their vehicles with the best puncture resistant tyres. Ones which can withstand roadside bombs and artillery attacks.
Puncture free tires are increasingly becoming the standard for industrial applications from mining to the battlefield. The best puncture resistant tyres are feats of engineering prowess. Combining durability and comfort in a package which is economically advantageous and most of all promotes safety. These tyres are so good that they may even make their way to road vehicles in the near future.
Provided by Peter Hablutzel