Tire Tech

Michelin's C3M Process

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Michelin's C3M process for manufacturing tires gives them an innovative edge...but what is the C3M process, and how does it work? That's still a secret.

However, the C3M process has become an integral part of Michelin's manufacturing capabilities, with even greater levels of quality and uniformity as its other more mature tire manufacturing processes. As for how the C3M process compares to other tire manufacturers' newest high-tech tire building systems, Michelin has already placed 15 million Original Equipment and replacement C3M-made tires on the road since 1997 while the others are still in the pre-mass market stages. Today more than 20% of the Michelin Pilot line is made using the C3M process, and Michelin will produce at least seven million tires through C3M in 2001.

But the C3M process is still a secret. Even those who have viewed a C3M facility haven't seen details of the process at work. However, the real importance isn't as much about what C3M is, as it's about what the C3M process does. One distinct feature of the process is its pinpoint accuracy for the placement of components during tire manufacturing. In terms of quality and uniformity, it's state-of-the-art. Now, Michelin is leveraging the advantages of its C3M process to produce some of the most technically advanced tires ever designed, such as the Pilot Sport A/S Ultra-High Performance All-Season tire.

The Z-speed rated Michelin Pilot Sport A/S fulfills the purpose of the all-season performance tire category. With the exact placement of weather taming compounds, the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S allows drivers to push their ultra-high performance vehicles a little harder in virtually any weather condition.The C3M process allows Michelin to precisely place three different rubber compounds across the tread. Each of those compounds delivers a different kind of performance, assuring the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S can deliver confident performance on dry, wet and light snow covered roads, while keeping pace with some of the ultra high performance summer tires.

For performance driving, the tire's shoulder contains a carbon black compound (illustrated in red) to crisply navigate through corners and turns. Winter weather and cold temperatures are matched with a softer, yet durable rubber compound on each side of the center rib (illustrated in yellow). For wet traction, stability and stopping, the center rib of the tire contains 100 percent silica enhanced tread compound (illustrated in blue), the agent commonly found in rain tires.

Beyond the innovative tread compounding, the C3M manufacturing process allows components beneath the rubber to be assembled with pinpoint precision. This permits belts, cords and super-strong Kevlar® reinforcements -- the same high strength material used in the design of Michelin's Formula One racing tires -- to be placed at performance-specific angles to control the shape of the tire while its in motion, a critical factor in performance.

While the Michelin Pilot Sport A/S maximizes the advantages of the C3M process, Michelin also uses the C3M process to manufacture more than 20 percent of the entire Michelin Pilot line. Although Michelin has the ability to produce any tire using C3M, it is concentrating on high performance passenger and SUV tires for the revolutionary new process.


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