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News

Babying Your Tires with the TireCradle

Bayer MaterialScience AG : 13 May, 2002  (Company News)
The typical car owner probably never heard of flatspotting. However, if you own a luxury or sports car equipped with low-profile tires, you may be aware of this condition, which can occur when a vehicle sits for extended periods of time.
The combination of vehicle weight, temperature and time parked causes tires to develop flat spots. These can be temporary, in that the tire will round out with driving, or permanent, affecting the tire's belting and casing, and ruining the tire. Now there's an alternative to the costly replacement of low-profile tires due to flatspotting.

TireCradle1 protective parking pads are the first products designed and marketed to prevent flatspotting, according to the manufacturer, St. Barsabas. The company explains that the TireCradle pads keep tires insulated from ground temperatures and redistribute the vehicle weight, preventing flatspotting, regardless of the amount of time a vehicle is parked. When designing the TireCradle pads, only one material possessed the combination of physical properties necessary for this demanding application - the Bayflex® high-density integral skin polyurethane foam system from Bayer Corporation.

'The whole key to the success of this product is the polymer,' explained John Potocki, car enthusiast, owner of Abbottstown, Pa.-based St. Barsabas, and developer of the TireCradle protective parking pads.

Bayflex 904 System Makes the Difference

The TireCradle pads are molded with the Bayflex 904 system, a fully compounded polyether-based polyurethane system. This material was developed by Bayer's Polyurethanes Division for a variety of applications requiring a microcellular core and a tough, abrasion-resistant outer surface, such as appliance handles, parts for recreational vehicles and exercise equipment, office chair arm rests and bicycle seats.

'This application required a material with great load-bearing capacity, compressive characteristics and chemical resistance,' explained Brian Stubbs, Engineering Manager for the molder, Creative Urethanes Inc. 'Furthermore, the material needed to retain these properties in extreme temperatures and have a tough, durable outer skin that maintains an attractive appearance. Bayer's Bayflex 904 system had the perfect combination of properties, as well as the ability to return to shape after vehicles were parked on the pads for long periods of time,' Stubbs explained.

In fact, although the TireCradle pads are designed for automobiles, Potocki said some customershave successfully used them for their recreational vehicles.

TireCradle pads are sold in a set of four (one for each tire). Each measures 18 inches long by 14 inches wide by 1-1/2 inches thick. The pads are molded in a two-cavity mold by Creative Urethanes, using the Bayflex 904 system supplied by regional polyurethanes distributor D.H. Litter Company (1-800-551-1039).

TireCradle pads for the rear wheels feature tapered ramps on both ends so they can easily be driven over, while the TireCradle pads for the front wheels feature a tapered ramp on one end, and a slight bulge on the other to help correctly position the car. Each set weighs 25 pounds and sells for $299.

'The things that make this product work are very subtle,' said Stubbs. 'With a simple part geometry, tooling and molding were straightforward. The real challenge was finding a material with the combination of properties to meet the performance requirements. We got that with the Bayer material.'

Dale Heller, who works for a BMW dealership near Baltimore, was one of the first customers. 'This product lends itself to the person who is exceedingly particular about his or her car,' said Heller, who has had cars 'in his blood' since he was 16 years old. 'I don't know of another product on the market like it. It does exactly what it promises to do.'

Well-Rounded Offering

In addition to supplying the Bayflex system, Bayer provided valuable technical expertise, which included the final material selection, design analysis and processing support that helped the molder shave time off the cycle time, according to Tom Carroll, Sales Manager for Creative Urethanes. 'Bayer's technical assistance is second to none from a problem-solving standpoint,' he said.
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