The Wheel: A Brief History

May 31, 2017 | News

The story of Western Tire Recyclers starts long before our time. The first known wheels appeared in ancient history sometime as early as 4500 BC during the Neolithic Period. It can be tempting to envision a primitive wooden wheel attached to a rickety cart for transporting heavy objects. However, before the wheel was ever used for transportation or even manual labor it was likely used to make pottery. It wasn’t until roughly 3200 BC that the wheel was used for some form of transportation.


The Modern Wheel   

Today, we have grown accustomed to a rapid evolution of technology. We even have Moore’s Law, which is essentially a glorified prediction about the rate at which technology will evolve (specifically how fast transistors will shrink). Ancient technology typically remained in a stasis. For thousands of years the wheel remained largely the same. In 1888, the first tire was invented by Benz. A rubber coating filled with pressurized air was considered by critics to be revolutionary. Since 1888, rubber tires are still the standard for virtually all wheeled vehicles.


The OTR Tire

Off-the-road tires (OTR) are industrial grade tires. They are used operate the largest automobiles in the world. There are 3 main types of OTR tire construction.

  1. Bias: A bias tire uses cross-ply to create a strong mesh. Steel wire is weaved to connect the tire to the rim of the wheel.
  2. Belted Bias- Similar to the bias tire, the belted bias also uses steel stabilizers.
  3. Radial- A combination or bias and belted bias tires, the radial tire has better control at higher speeds, but bumpier a lower speeds.


The Future of Tires

It is difficult to predict how wheels and tires will evolve in the future. In 2012, Hankook Tire invented a tire that is only rubber, without any air pressure. The primary purpose of an airless tire a more eco-friendly production. Goodyear has developed tire that heat up while the automobile is parked in preparation for the next trip. Even more experimental are the concept of spherical tires. Some advantages of sphere tires would be allowing an automobile to move sideways; potentially quite useful to parallel park.


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