Neu-Isenburg, Germany – Hankook Tire Europe is debuting several new technologies, including materials, design and tread knowhow within its truck & bus SmartFlex series, which it says increases the performance of the tires significantly.
SmartFlex AH51 for the steering axle and SmartFlex DH51 for the driving axle now feature “self-regenerating treads” and “SmartLife” technologies, helping them to respectively provide 15% and 20% better mileage compared to their predecessors.
The tires feature Hankook’s patented SCCT (stiffness control contour theory) design technology, which ensures that the internal pressure distribution is as evenly balanced.
This, Hankook said in a 31 Aug statement, results in more stability and less movement in the tire casing during use, which leads to "high durability of the SmartLife carcasses and very good retreadability."
For both the belt plies and the carcass itself, the tires each use special “high-strength steel cord materials.”
Together with the SCCT contour, this results in a consistent contact patch for even wear, as well as improved traction and braking performance, Hankook added.
To improve the wear, 3D sipes with self-regenerating tread features are incorporated into the tire treads which emerge after a degree of wear of between 40 and 70%.
The task of these “regenerating grooves” is to lock the tread blocks together in the rolling movement and therefore ensure higher overall tread stability and extended mileage.
They also make the tire more robust and less susceptible to external influences, such as poor road surfaces.
According to Hankook, a distinct feature for both new tires is “notch-tough tread compounds.”
The compounds, it said, feature special "high-performance resins" which improve the resistance and durability of the material through increasing the molecular weight of the polymers.
This, Hankook said, contributes to an overall higher mileage performance.
Furthermore, Hankook said it increased the proportion of low-damping materials in the base compound of both patterns to significantly reduce principle viscoelastic power loss throughout the tread.
The sidewall compounds were also freshly developed for the new SmartFlex generation, with emphasis on increasing resistance to crack formation and material fatigue.
The Korean tire maker also tapped its “innovative mixing system” IMS for the distribution of carbon black particles and rubber molecules within the compounds.
The process, combined with longer mixing times at lowered temperatures, significantly increased the bonding rate between the carbon black and rubber molecules.
“As a result, SmartFlex tires generate less heat during operation,” it said.
“The focus of our tire development is always on premium quality and long service life,” said Guy Heywood, marketing director truck & bus tires at Hankook Tire Europe.
According to Heywood, “intensive testing” has shown that, compared to competitors in the premium category, both new SmartFlex products achieve “significantly higher performance standards” in terms of lifetime even when they are 2/3 worn.
Hankook expects to offer the tire in a selection of European markets by November.