Touchless cleaning for high quality tires

Tire molds require regular cleaning – after approximately 1000-3000 tires – to remove production residue and guarantee consistent product quality and attractive appearance. The steel and aluminum molds have to be cleaned, together with their sidewall plates. Cleaning the sipes and vent holes presents particular challenges and thus increases the demand for alternatives to conventional cleaning processes. At the same time the quality requirements of OEM customers are constantly increasing.

Tire produced in a dirty mold
Tire produced in a laser cleaned mold

The principle of laser mold cleaning

By using a pulsed laser beam the average power of the laser is focussed to a pulse energy in the nanosecond range. Thus, a maximum pulse power of a few million watts is reached for a very short time. The instantaneous application means that the energy cannot dissipate, and it virtually blasts the unwanted residue in a small area. The impact area is the same size as the area covered by the laser beam spot on the surface. By repeating this process and forming a row of individual beam spots, the surface can be gradually cleaned pulse by pulse. The residue that is blasted off – generally fine dust and gas – is locally exhausted and evacuated to a filter.

Advantages of laser mold cleaning

  • REPRODUCIBLE QUALITY

    The automated process ensures that every section of the mold is cleaned. The sophisticated multi-axis scanner steers the laser light under grooves and behind every sipe. The sidewall engravings are cleaned spotless and no “clouds” affect the tire surface. Residues are immediately evacuated and filtered.

  • NO MOLD WEAR

    During the short pulse duration, the laser energy is hardly absorbed by the mold material. As a result, the molds suffer no mechanical, chemical or thermal damage. The improved cleaning efficiency reduces the frequency of mold changes, thus enabling long-term continuous production periods without downtime. Also the costs of repairing and overhauling molds are reduced.

  • REDUCED VENT MAINTENANCE

    The laser eliminates the use of blasting media that can plug vent holes. As molds get dirty quicker than vent holes get plugged, it is possible to drastically reduce the amount of manual vent drilling. The touchless laser cleaning ensures no damage to the fragile mechanical vent systems.

  • OPTIMAL FOR SPRING VENTS

    Tire molds with spring vent systems may not be cleaned by common sand- or glass blasting, because these techniques are highly abrasive and the blasting media would plug the spring vents. A non abrasive cleaning process, which does not leave any residues or damages on the mold, is needed: A perfect job for the touchless cleaning with laser light

  • FLEXIBLE CLEANING

    4JET systems are suitable for laser cleaning two-piece and segmented molds in cold condition as well as at vulcanising temperature.