How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 445

How does the process of retreading a tire work?
Since a tire cannot be melted, it can't simply be reformed into a new tire. Moreover, it contains lots of belting materials that would have to be removed and reinstalled in the new tire. So the only recycling technique available for tires is to replace the tread itself. They shave away the outside of the tire to remove any remaining tread (working carefully, so as not to damage the belts), and glue a new layer of unvulcanized rubber onto the outside of the tire. The tire is then placed in a mold and heated. This heating causes a chemical reaction known as vulcanization to occur in the new tread rubber. This vulcanization bonds all the rubber molecules together and also binds them to the original tire. If done correctly, the entire tire, old and new, becomes a single gigantic molecule and the chances of losing the tread while driving should be minimal. Furthermore, the mold forms a tread on the surface of the new rubber so that the tire is structurally very much like a new tire. However, poor retreading work or accumulated damage due to many retreading operations can produce a weak tire and allow the tread to tear away from the tire body. This separation usually occurs while the tire is spinning rapidly and the tension forces within the tire are maximized. Such separation accounts for the huge strips of tread material you often see on highways.

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