Aquaplaning and the product development of Hakka Blue

The development of a safe and functional as well as sufficiently tested tyre product is a time-consuming process. For example, developing the Hakka Blue tyres took about three years. A thorough development and testing of tyres is a comprehensive process, which includes continuous work with different rubber mixtures, structural solutions, and surface patterns. The Nordic conditions set their own challenges to tyre development – among other things, the rubber mixtures must perform well in both warm and cold weather.

Tests for the best surface pattern

The development project of a new tyre product starts with the determination of the tyre properties, and different test surface patterns are made based on this. The product development of Hakka Blue tyres was initiated with five different patterns and, after tests, two of them were on the top. One of these was chosen as the final product by combining the best properties of the two patterns. Moreover, some well-proven properties detected in tests of other surface patterns were transferred to the final Hakka Blue product.

The aquaplaning properties of the tyre are greatly influenced by, among other things, the properties and angle of the main and side grooves in the tyre and the volume of the grooves in the contact pattern when driving to, e.g., a pool of water. One of the most significant innovations of Nokian Hakka Blue tyres is the Dry Touch lamella in the longitudinal fin that guides water between the tyre and driving surface to the groove and prevents the tyre from aquaplaning. Another advantage of the Dry Touch lamella is that when the tyre wears, the lamella spreads and makes the grip even better.

Water laboratory helps in product development

The behavior of the developed products and tyres is tested under wet conditions in the water laboratory at Nokian Tyres’s Test Track. The water laboratory was also used in the development of Hakka Blue tyres and the Dry Touch lamella. The test track has a glass plate fixed to the surface of the asphalt. The surface of the glass plate is covered by a medium, such as water or a commonly used whitish liquid, in order to achieve the required contrast. The tested tyre is used to drive over the plate, and a high-speed camera under the plate takes photos of this procedure with a maximum speed of 30,000 photos per second. Analyzing the photos provides information on the properties of the tyre and behavior of the medium with different lamella solutions and under various surface patterns. This helps to develop better and safer tyres.

The rubber mixtures are continuously developed regardless of each tyre product project. The physical and mechanical properties of different mixtures are tested in laboratory conditions. Although many things can today be examined with computer modeling, there are no shortcuts when investigating the mixture properties and actual behavior of the tyre under the car. All these properties must be tested in practice. The rubber mixture of Nokian Hakka products is designed to perform in a safe manner in a broad range of temperatures and withstand both hot summers and rainy autumns.

New tyres are safer than ever before

The main purpose of designing new tyre products is to create better products than those of our competitors’ premium models and to serve our customers better than our own previous products. The properties of the previously released tyres and new tyres are difficult to compare with each other, because, on the long run, the properties of the summer tyres emphasized by the manufacturers in their product development change with the trends. Previously, wear-resistance and grip in wet conditions were the most important properties, but today the most appreciated feature seems to be the low rolling resistance, which relates to ecological efficiency and the consumers’ environmental awareness. The new EU directive will take effect in the beginning of November, stating that the tyre energy rating must be presented with the sale. The categories of energy rating are rolling resistance, grip in wet conditions, and by-pass noise. These are the properties that car tyre manufacturers will increasingly invest in in the future. On the whole, the safety of tyres has significantly improved during the years, and the overall properties of the tyres available in the market are better than ever.

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