Engineers at the University of Illinois are working on creating at puncture-free tire. To do so, they used computer simulations to calculate the tire's shear layer's ability to stretch and twist. The end goal is a tire design that can withstand pressure but also remains elastic enough to provide a smooth ride.
“The shear layer is where you get the most bang for your buck from a design perspective. It’s where you have the most freedom to explore new and unique design configurations,” says Kai James, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at University of Illinois.
From the University of Illinois article: "James explained how, as the computer simulation works to find the optimum pattern, it eliminates structural patterns that are not optimal. It begins with a computer simulated block of the bulk material that the tire will be made from. Because a solid block doesn’t have much elasticity, the material is virtually cut away, leaving spaces for flexibility.
'If you carve holes in the material until it is something like a checkerboard pattern, with half of the material, you’d also have half of the original stiffness,' he said. 'Now, if you do a much more complicated pattern, you can actually tailor the stiffness.'
Obviously, on a continuum from a block of material to a thin, lacelike pattern, the number of potential designs is infinite, but it’s not realistic to test every design. And, it’s important to note that the algorithm doesn’t end by spitting out a single, optimal design."
Read more about designing a puncture-free tire at University of Illinois.
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