Research and Development

RandD article

THE CUTTING EDGE OF INNOVATION

In order to deliver outstanding performance tires we know the overriding importance of extensive research and development, as well as close cooperation with premium car manufacturers. That is why long before the launch of a new car, engineers from the car manufacturer and our tire development group get together to define and discuss requirement specifications for specific vehicles.

In order to cooperate closely with the major car manufacturers to develop tires suitable for the full range of driving conditions encountered around the globe, the Dunlop global development team maintains two main Research and Development Centres in Asia and Europe. This global expertise with operations in Hanau, Germany and in Kobe, Japan is unique in the tire industry and it pays off with outstanding products like the new Dunlop SP Sport Maxx - our new flagship tire in the ultra high performance segment, and the most recent success of a global cooperation with our Japanese colleagues from SRI.

In Europe, the Dunlop Development Centre in Hanau (DDC-H) is based in the heart of the automotive industry and on average handles about 400 OE-developments each and every year. Special teams within the R&D department are dedicated to key accounts and thus design in specific groups for BMW/DC, Audi, GM/OPC, Porsche/VW/Seat/Skoda, Bentley/Aston Martin/Jaguar/Volvo/Saab/Nedcar, Japanese customers, and Pattern Development Work. There are also specialist teams that focus solely on winter tires, Van/SUV/C-type tires, as well as on tuning. This expertise makes Dunlop one of the most important brands on both the German and the global OE-market with customers such as Audi, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, Opel, VW, Land Rover, Rover, Bentley, Toyota, and Nissan.

During the course of our long history, numerous inventions and discoveries have come out of our development centres. Among them are the three most famous and important ones that Dunlop can claim – the discovery of the aquaplaning phenomenon, the invention of the Self Supporting Tire (DENOVO/DSST), and the 3S-technology.

Aquaplaning

In the early sixties, the Dunlop technical team faced the huge challenge of making tires grip at high speeds on wet roads. At the same time, laboratories and research stations throughout the world realized worn tires suffered ‘aquaplaning’, a phenomenon where a tire floats on water and loses all braking grip.

In 1964 Dunlop’s tire development manager, Tom French patented a breakthrough advance in tire tread design. It included a system of ‘microslots’ that soaked up surface water like a sponge and expelled it later. This revolutionary feature, coupled with its circumferential groove pattern and rigid structure, brought the SP 41 and SP 68 radial ply car tires safety awards throughout the world.

The legacy from this design remains today with Dunlop’s SP Sport 01 tires, featuring longitudinal grooves that allow low turbulence water drainage.

DSST (Dunlop Self Supporting Tire)

Back in the 1970s, Dunlop created DENOVO – the world’s first ‘fail-safe’ tire – giving drivers total long distance and high-speed control, even following punctures or blowouts. To demonstrate its capabilities a Fiat Mirafiori was driven from Fort Dunlop to Turin, and a Chevrolet Corvette with deflated rear tires drove 6000 kilometers from Boston to Los Angeles, whilst Dunlop also entered its own team in the RAC Rally using only a ‘failsafe’ version of its SP 44 rally tire.

Our innovation continues to this day with DSST tires. The technology can support a vehicle’s
entire weight when the tire is flat for up to 80km at 80 km/h, even if there is no tire pressure. DSST tires allow drivers to push on instead of pulling over, delivering more peace of mind. The tires are simple and convenient, they can be used on all standard wheel rims and be fitted without special tools or equipment, whilst at the same time living up to the demands of high performance cars. As of 2003, BMW has decided to equip many of its cars with tires featuring ‘fail-safe’ technology. On their flagship model, the new BMW 5-series, more than 50% of all cars with the ‘fail-safe’ system are now equipped with the Dunlop SP 01 DSST tires as original equipment.

3S-Technology

With the innovative asymmetrical tri-area tread Dunlop introduced a new multi-talented technology in the high performance car tire market. The 3S-technology is at the heart of tires designed to equally combine three features - Silent running, Sportiness, and Safety. With the 3S-technology Dunlop again demonstrates legendary technical know-how by combining tire parameters, characteristics and behaviour which traditionally are not compatible. The 3S-technology optimizes each tread zone based on specific high levels of performance achievements. Improving the aquaplaning resistance of a tire often corresponds to loss of performance in noise and handling. However, through optimized adjustment between the newly designed central rail system, new arrangement of outside shoulder blocks (Asymmetric Transfer variation) linked with a new closed shoulder, and the use of hydro-paddles on the inside shoulder, the 3S-technology deflects water like a turbine and without rotation, reducing noise emission and ensuring efficient transmission of lateral forces to guarantee excellent driving stability and handling. It brings a new technological standard and reference to the tire industry.