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Title:
METHOD OF FORMING A SUPPORT STRUCTURE OF A NON-PNEUMATIC TIRE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/116804
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A method of forming a non-pneumatic tire that involves positioning an inner V pair spoke section (40) and an interface ring (42) such that the interface ring is located outward from the inner V pair spoke section in a radial direction of the non-pneumatic tire. An outer V pair spoke section (44) and the interface ring (42) are also positioned so that the outer V pair spoke section (44) is located outward from the interface ring (42) in the radial direction of the non-pneumatic tire. The inner V pair spoke section (40), the interface ring (42), and the outer V pair spoke section (44) are adhered to form a connection between the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section.

Inventors:
WILSON, Brian (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
RIVERS, Eric (Inc.-IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
CRON, Steven (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
RHYNE, Timothy (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
BOHN, Clayton (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
GAYLO, Ryan (Inc.-IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
Application Number:
US2016/067547
Publication Date:
July 06, 2017
Filing Date:
December 19, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
COMPAGNIE GENERALE DES ETABLISSEMENTS MICHELIN (12 Cours Sablon, Clermont-Ferrand, Clermont-Ferrand, FR)
MICHELIN RECHERCHE ET TECHNIQUE S.A. (Route Louis Braille 10, 1763 Granges-Paccot, Granges-Paccot, CH)
WILSON, Brian (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
RIVERS, Eric (Inc.-IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
CRON, Steven (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
RHYNE, Timothy (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
BOHN, Clayton (Inc. -IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
GAYLO, Ryan (Inc.-IP Dept515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
International Classes:
B29D30/02; B29C45/14; B29C65/08; B29D30/26; B60B3/00; B60B9/02; B60B9/04; B60B9/10; B60B9/12; B60B9/20; B60B9/26; B60C7/14; B60C7/16; B60C7/24
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007057975A12007-05-24
WO2015012501A12015-01-29
WO2015072314A12015-05-21
WO2003018332A12003-03-06
WO2014188912A12014-11-27
Foreign References:
JP2012091555A2012-05-17
US20150174954A12015-06-25
US6244669B12001-06-12
US20100319828A12010-12-23
JPH01311902A1989-12-15
US4235270A1980-11-25
EP2955009A12015-12-16
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
PIEROTTI, Neal, P. (Michelin North America, Inc.Intellectual Property Dept.,515 Michelin Roa, Greenville SC, 29605, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

I claim:

1. A method of forming a non-pneumatic tire, comprising the steps of: providing an inner V pair spoke section; providing an interface ring; providing an outer V pair spoke section; positioning the inner V pair spoke section and the interface ring such that the interface ring is located outward from the inner V pair spoke section in a radial direction of the non-pneumatic tire; positioning the outer V pair spoke section and the interface ring such that the outer V pair spoke section is located outward from the interface ring in the radial direction of the non-pneumatic tire; and adhering the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section to form a connection between the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section.

2. The method as set forth in claim 1, wherein the step of positioning includes applying tension to the inner V pair spoke section and the outer V pair spoke section such that the inner V pair spoke section and the outer V pair spoke section are pre-tensioned after the adhering step.

3. The method as set forth in claims 1 or 2, wherein the inner V pair spoke section is a first inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring is a first interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section is a first outer V pair spoke section, wherein the first inner V pair spoke section, the first interface ring, and the first outer V pair spoke section are portions of a first intermediate section, and further comprising the steps of: providing a second intermediate section that has a second inner V pair spoke section, a second interface ring, and a second outer V pair spoke section; providing a third intermediate section that has a third inner V pair spoke section, a third interface ring, and a third outer V pair spoke section; inserting the first intermediate section into an outer shear band ring; inserting the second intermediate section in the outer shear band ring; and inserting the third intermediate section in the outer shear band ring.

4. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-3, further comprising the step of engaging the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section with a positioning tool that includes a plurality of slots that receive the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section; wherein the step of engaging the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section takes places before the step of adhering the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section.

5. The method as set forth in claim 4, further comprising the step of positioning a close out piece adjacent the positioning tool when the positioning tool engages the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section, wherein the close out piece and the positioning tool define an adhesive cavity into which adhesion is injected during the adhering the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section step.

6. The method as set forth in claim 5, wherein the close out piece engages the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section when the positioning tool engages the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section; and wherein the close out piece is moved past a first terminal end of the positioning tool in an axial direction of the positioning tool when the positioning tool engages the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section such that the close out piece is located between the first terminal end and a second terminal end of the positioning tool in the axial direction of the positioning tool.

7. The method as set forth in any one of claims 4-6, wherein the positioning tool has a body and a plurality of ramped fingers that extend away from the body in an axial direction of the positioning tool, wherein the plurality of ramped fingers extend outward from a central axis of the positioning tool in a radial direction of the positioning tool upon extension away from the body in the axial direction of the positioning tool; wherein the step of engaging the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section includes movement of the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section through the ramped fingers and then into the plurality of slots to create pre-tension on the inner V pair spoke section and the outer V pair spoke section.

8. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-3, further comprising the step of clamping by the use of an actuated clamp or an actuated positioning tool the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section; wherein the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section are clamped when the adhering step is executed.

9. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-3, wherein the step of adhering includes providing a two piece interlocking mechanical fastener, wherein the two piece interlocking mechanical fastener has a first piece located at the outer V pair spoke section and a second piece located at the inner V pair spoke section, wherein adhesion is applied to the two piece interlocking mechanical fastener, and wherein at least one of the first piece and the second piece extends through the interface ring.

10. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-9, further comprising the step of directly molding the inner V pair spoke section onto a hub, wherein the step of directly molding the inner V pair spoke section onto the hub takes place before the step of positioning the inner V pair spoke section and the interface ring.

11. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-10, further comprising the step of directly attaching the outer V pair spoke section onto an inner shear band ring before the step of positioning the outer V pair spoke section and the interface ring, wherein the direct attachment of the outer V pair spoke section onto the inner shear band ring is performed by molding or curing.

12. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-11, wherein the inner V pair spoke section, the outer V pair spoke section, and the interface ring are fabricated as separate components and are then subsequently assembled together into the supporting structure.

13. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-12, wherein the inner V pair spoke section includes a material not found in the interface ring, wherein the outer V pair spoke section includes a material not found in the interface ring, wherein the interface ring includes a material not found in the inner V pair spoke section, and wherein the interface ring includes a material not found in the outer V pair spoke section.

14. The method as set forth in any one of claims 1-12, wherein there is at least one material that is not common to both the inner V pair spoke section and the outer V pair spoke section.

15. The method as set forth in claim 8, wherein the step of clamping is performed by the actuated positioning tool; wherein the actuated positioning tool includes a plurality of slots that receive the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section; further comprising the step of positioning a close out piece adjacent the actuated positioning tool when the actuated positioning tool clamps the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section, wherein the close out piece and the actuated positioning tool define an adhesive cavity into which adhesion is injected during the adhering the inner V pair spoke section, the interface ring, and the outer V pair spoke section step.

Description:
TITLE

METHOD OF FORMING A SUPPORT STRUCTURE OF A NON-PNEUMATIC TIRE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to a method of assembling a non-pneumatic tire. More particularly, the present application involves a method of pre-tensioning and adhering various sections of a supporting structure of a non-pneumatic tire to one another.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Non-pneumatic tires for vehicles and other applications are known that may include a hub surrounded circumferentially by an outward radially disposed tread that includes an annular shear band ring. A supporting structure that may have a series of spokes can be disposed radially between the hub and shear band ring and can function to connect these two components. As the tire rotates under load, the spokes experience bending, extension and compression deformation when they are located downward near the contact patch of the tire. The spokes straighten outside the contact patch relieving the bending and compression deformation.

[0003] Another method of manufacturing of non-pneumatic tires involves placement of the shear band ring and hub into a mold as inserts and subsequent casting of the supporting structure. The supporting structure is made of polyurethane and adheres to the hub and shear band ring during the casting process. However, the supporting structure is limited in material to being made completely of polyurethane, or some other single substance. The supporting structure therefore includes the most expensive and highest performing material throughout even though only a single area of the supporting structure requires the inclusion of the most robust material. If made of a single material, it is known to rely on material shrinkage during the molding process to impart any desired pre-tension to the resulting supporting structure. Although it is known to assemble a non- pneumatic tire though the use of a single material and through an integrally formed supporting structure, such formation may result in performance and cost issues. As such, there remains room for variation and improvement within the art. BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0004] A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth more particularly in the remainder of the specification, which makes reference to the appended Figs, in which:

[0005] Fig. 1 is a perspective view of a non-pneumatic tire.

[0006] Fig. 2 is a side elevation view of an inner shear band ring and an outer V pair spoke section.

[0007] Fig. 3 is a side elevation view of an interface ring.

[0008] Fig. 4 is a side elevation view of an inner V pair spoke section.

[0009] Fig. 5 is a side elevation view of an intermediate section in which the inner V pair spoke section is molded to a hub.

[0010] Fig. 6 is a side elevation view of an intermediate section formed through the assembly of an inner V pair spoke section, an interface ring, and an outer V pair spoke section.

[0011] Fig. 7 is a side view of a portion of the intermediate section with unattached components positioned for attachment.

[0012] Fig. 8 is a perspective view of a portion of a tooling fixture that includes a plurality of positioning tools.

[0013] Fig. 9 is a side view of a positioning tool and a close out piece in engagement therewith.

[0014] Fig. 10 is a perspective view of a portion of the intermediate section with the positioning tools just beginning their insertion into the intermediate section.

[0015] Fig. 11 is a perspective view of the portion of the intermediate section in which the positioning tools have been fully inserted.

[0016] Fig. 12 is a front view of a portion of the intermediate section as inserted into the positioning tools.

[0017] Fig. 13 is a cross-sectional view of the positioning tool in which the positions of the components of the intermediate section are shown therein. [0018] Fig. 14 is a perspective view of a portion of the intermediate section with a close out piece applied and which a portion of the positioning tool shown in phantom lines in order to show the positioning and configuration of the close out piece.

[0019] Fig. 15 is a perspective view of a portion of the intermediate section with the close out pieces applied and with the positioning tools fully inserted.

[0020] Fig. 16 is a perspective view of a portion of the intermediate section with one of the close out pieces removed to show connection of portions of the intermediate section.

[0021] Fig. 17 is a perspective view of a portion of the intermediate section with one of the positioning tools and close out piece removed to show connection of the components of the intermediate section.

[0022] Fig. 18 is a side view of an actuated clamp with arms in an open position.

[0023] Fig. 19 is a side view of the actuated clamp of Fig. 18 with the arms in the closed position.

[0024] Fig. 20 is a front view of an actuated positioning tool in an unactuated position.

[0025] Fig. 21 is a front view of the actuated positioning tool of Fig. 20 in an actuated position.

[0026] Fig. 22 is a perspective view of a two piece interlocking mechanical fastener.

[0027] Fig. 23 is a partial side view in which a plurality of two piece interlocking mechanical fasteners of Fig. 22 are used to attach the inner V pair spoke section to the outer V pair spoke section.

[0028] Fig. 24 is an exploded assembly view of a non-pneumatic tire with three intermediate sections.

[0029] Repeat use of reference characters in the present specification and drawings is intended to represent the same or analogous features or elements of the invention. DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF REPRESENTATIVE EMBODIMENTS

[0030] Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the invention, and not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield still a third embodiment. It is intended that the present invention include these and other modifications and variations.

[0031] It is to be understood that the ranges mentioned herein include all ranges located within the prescribed range. As such, all ranges mentioned herein include all sub-ranges included in the mentioned ranges. For instance, a range from 100-200 also includes ranges from 110-150, 170- 190, and 153-162. Further, all limits mentioned herein include all other limits included in the mentioned limits. For instance, a limit of up to 7 also includes a limit of up to 5, up to 3, and up to 4.5.

[0032] The present application provides for a method of constructing a non-pneumatic tire 10 that has an intermediate section 14 that may be made out of an inner V pair spoke section 40, an interface ring 42, and an outer V pair spoke section 44. The various sections 40, 42 and 44 may be made out of different materials so that more expensive material with necessary performance properties are included as needed in the intermediate section 14, while less expensive material with minimal performance properties are included in those areas of the intermediate section 14 that do not require the high performance characteristics. In this manner, material is not unnecessarily used or wasted in construction of the intermediate section 14. The present application also provides for a method of attaching the various sections 40, 42 and 44 to one another so that they may be formed, if desired, from different materials and/or separately from one another in different processes.

[0033] With reference to Fig. 1, a non-pneumatic tire 10 is shown through which a central axis 58 extends. The central axis 58 is identified with other components of the non-pneumatic tire 10 and relates to the position of these components once assembled into the non-pneumatic tire 10. An axial direction 24 of the non-pneumatic tire 10 is defined as the direction along the central axis 58 or the direction parallel to the central axis 58. The radial direction 22 of the non-pneumatic tire 10 extends at a 90 degree angle to the axial direction 24, and the circumferential direction 26 of the non-pneumatic tire 10 extends around the arc length of the non-pneumatic tire 10 so as to circle 360 degrees the central axis 58. As with the axial direction 24, the radial direction 22 and the circumferential direction 26 are identified with other components in the drawings that are then subsequently assembled into the non-pneumatic tire 10 as their orientations would be upon final assembly. The non-pneumatic tire 10 includes a hub 20 that can be mounted onto a wheel of the vehicle. The central axis 58 extends through the center of the hub 20.

[0034] Located outward from the hub 20 in the radial direction 22 is a supporting structure 16. The supporting structure 16 may be designed in a variety of manners. As shown, the supporting structure 16 includes an inner V pair spoke section 40, an interface ring 42, and an outer V pair spoke section 44. The spokes are V shaped with apexes that are oriented to and are located at one another between the inner and outer V pair spoke sections 40 and 44. However, it is to be understood that the supporting structure 16 can be provided in a variety of manners and need not include V shaped spokes, and need not include an inner and outer section in other embodiments. Instead, the supporting structure 16 may include simply a plurality of spokes that are linear in shape and that are arranged completely around the supporting structure 16 in the circumferential direction 26. As such, it is to be understood that the configuration of the supporting structure 16 illustrated and described is only exemplary and that other arrangements are possible in other configurations of the non-pneumatic tire 10 and method disclosed herein.

[0035] The non-pneumatic tire 10 also has a shear band ring 56 that engages the supporting structure 16 and is located radially outward from the supporting structure 16 in the radial direction 22. Tread 60 is also included in the non-pneumatic tire 10 and is attached to the shear band ring 56. The supporting structure 16 may be formed as a single component, or can be made by individually constructing two or three subcomponents, such as the sections and rings 40, 42 and 44, and then assembling these two or three modular pieces together to form the supporting structure 16.

Construction in two or three modular pieces may allow for benefits in cost and performance to be realized.

[0036] With reference to Fig. 2, the outer V pair spoke section 44 is shown that has a plurality of V shaped spokes disposed completely around the outer V pair spoke section 44 in the circumferential direction 26. The outer V pair spoke section 44 may be made of polyurethane, thermoplastic elastomer, or rubber and may be reinforced. Reinforcement materials that may be used include nylon, polyester, rayon, fiberglass, carbon fiber, aramid, natural fiber, and metallics.

These reinforcements may be used in the form of monofilament, textile, or fibers as a single layer, in discrete layers, or dispensed. The outer V pair spoke section 44 may be applied and molded or cured with the shear band ring 56 during the shear band ring 56 curing process. The shear band ring 56 may be the entire shear band ring 56, or may be only the inner shear band ring 18 of the entire shear band ring 56. Alternatively, the outer V pair spoke section 44 may be formed without the shear band ring 56 and may be subsequently attached thereto. As such, the outer V pair spoke section 44 may be formed as a single component, or may be formed with the shear band ring 56.

[0037] Another component of the supporting structure 16 is the interface ring 42 as shown in Fig. 3. The interface ring 42 has a hollow interior and is uniform around the central axis 58 in the radial direction 22. The interface ring 42 may be in the shape of a cylindrical ring. Materials used to construct the interface ring 42 can be lower cost thermoplastic material, rubber that includes reinforcement, rubber that does not include reinforcement, or lower cost polyurethane. The interface ring 42 can be made through molding. Alternatively, the interface ring 42 may be made in a continuous process by extrusion as a tube or band that is subsequently cut to length. If formed as a band, it would be joined in order to make a ring.

[0038] The inner V pair spoke section 40 is shown in Fig. 4 and may be made out of polyurethane cast elastomer or could be made out of thermoplastic polyurethane, or may be made from polyurethane, other thermoset or thermoplastic elastomers, or rubber, and may be reinforced. The inner V pair spoke section 40 has a circular ring onto which V shaped spokes are arranged outward in the radial direction 22. The two prongs of the V shaped spokes engage the circular ring, but it is to be understood that the inner V pair spoke section 40 could be variously arranged in other embodiments. The inner V pair spoke section 40 may have the highest performance requirements of all the subcomponents of the supporting structure 16. The hub 20 is not attached to the inner V pair spoke section 40 as shown in Fig. 4 as the hub 20 could be a separate component. However, in other exemplary embodiments the inner V pair spoke section 40 may be directly molded onto the hub 20 with the hub 20 provided as an insert in the mold. This type of molding is known as overmolding, and the hub 20 is located radially inward from the inner V pair spoke section 40 in the radial direction 22. The materials previously mentioned as being used to construct the outer V pair spoke section 44 may also be used to construct the interface ring 42 and the inner V pair spoke section 40.

[0039] The inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 may thus be formed as individual components and may all be made out of the same material, or may be made out of different materials from one another so that all three are made of different materials, or so that at least one of the components 40, 42 and 44 is made of a different material than the other two. The components 40, 42 and 44 may each be made of two or more materials, but there may be at least one material that is unique to one of, two of, or all three of the components 40, 42 and 44. The materials selected for composition of the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 may be chosen for achieving different performance for that particular section of the supporting structure 16. The materials selected for each one of the components 40, 42 and 44 may be made to achieve performance characteristics such as modulus, fatigue resistance, and creep. During the assembly of the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 the pre-tension of the spokes of the supporting structure 16 could be established.

[0040] The supporting structure 16 may thus be made with lower cost by the use of lower cost, lower performance materials where allowed in portions of the supporting structure 16. Further, the assembly of the components 40, 42 and 44 allows for a mechanism of precisely setting the pre-tension of the spokes of the supporting structure 16. Additionally, the use of different materials in the supporting structure 16 allows the performance of the non-pneumatic tire 10 to be tuned as desired because the different materials used may exhibit different performance properties.

[0041] Assembly of the components 40, 42 and 44 into the supporting structure 16 is shown in Fig. 5. Various means of assembling the components 40, 42 and 44 to one another exist. Direct chemical adhesion, ultrasonic welding, or plastic welding may be used to attach the various components 40, 42 and 44. The attachment may involve the use of adhesives, such as glue, or may be attached by having two surfaces joined that have a natural adhesion to each other so that they readily adhere on their own. Also, the attachment may be effected by overmolding with another material. For example, a thermoplastic, thermoplastic elastomer, or cast thermoplastic polyurethane may be used to effect the connection at the joint area.

[0042] As shown, the outer V pair spoke section 44 is located outward in the radial direction 22 from and is attached to the interface ring 42. The inner V pair spoke section 40 is located inward in the radial direction 22 from and is attached to the interface ring 42. A hub 20 is also shown and is attached to the inner surface of the inner V pair spoke section 40. Once assembled, the non- pneumatic tire 10 includes a supporting structure 16 that features multiple materials between the hub 20 and the shear band ring 56 in the radial direction 22. However, although described as having multiple materials, it is to be understood that other versions of the non-pneumatic tire 10 may be provided that includes components 40, 42 and 44 between that hub 20 and the shear band ring 56 in the radial direction 22 that are all made up of the same materials or are all made of a single material. In these embodiments, there is no material unique to either the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, or the outer V pair spoke section 44.

[0043] An alternative embodiment of the supporting structure 16 is shown in Fig. 6. This supporting structure 16 differs from the one previously described with reference to Fig. 5 in that the inner V pair spoke section 40 lacks an inner circumferential cylinder. Instead, the inner V pair spoke section 40 may be molded and formed with the interface ring 42. The outer V pair spoke section 44 may be formed with the shear band ring 56, and may be formed with or subsequently attached to the interface ring 42. The various components 40, 42 and 44 may be made of the same or different materials.

[0044] In the embodiments where the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 are separate components, a method of attaching these separate components to one another for assembly of the intermediate section 14 is described. With reference to Fig. 7, a side elevation view of a portion of the non-pneumatic tire 10 is shown in which the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 are properly positioned relative to one another but are not attached to one another. The outer V pair spoke section 44 is already attached to the inner shear band ring 18, and in turn the inner shear band ring 18 is already attached to the outer shear band ring 12 to form the shear band ring 56 of the non- pneumatic tire 10. The tread 60 is likewise already attached to the outer shear band ring 12 in Fig. 7. However, it is to be understood that the tread 60, outer shear band ring 12, and the inner shear band ring 18 need not be attached to the outer V pair spoke section 44 before attachment of the outer V pair spoke section 44 to other portions of the intermediate section 14. In various arrangements, the outer V pair spoke section 44 is over molded directly to the inner shear band ring 18 with the inner shear band ring 18 as an insert. The hub 20 is shown as being already attached to the inner V pair spoke section 40, but need not be in other assembly sequences. When attached, the inner V pair spoke section 40 is over molded onto the hub 20 with the hub 20 used as an insert. The interface ring 42 is provided may be molded or fabricated by itself in a separate process. The apexes of the spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40 are arranged at the same location in the circumferential direction 26 as the apexes of the spokes of the outer V pair spoke section 44 with the interface ring 42 disposed therebetween. This arrangement is symmetrical all the way around the central axis 58 in the circumferential direction 26 so that every spoke of the outer V pair spoke section 44 is mated up with every spoke of the inner V pair spoke section 40 so that no stray or single spokes are left in the intermediate section 14.

[0045] A positioning tool 76 may be used to engage the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 to hold these components in place during adhesion to effect attachment of these components. The adhesion may take place at the location of the apexes so that the spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40 are attached to the inner surface of the interface ring 42 at the location of the attachment of the apexes of the spokes of the outer V pair spoke section 44 to the outer surface of the interface ring 42. A series of positioning tools 76 can be mounted to a support flange and may extend all the way around the central axis 58 in the circumferential direction 26. A portion of these positioning tools 76 is shown in Fig. 8 mounted to a bracket so that a single positioning tool 76 is dedicated to a single one of the aforementioned attachment points of the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44. The bracket may extend 360 degrees about the central axis 58 in the circumferential direction 26, and positioning tools 76 may be disposed along the entire circumferential length of the bracket. All of the positioning tools 76 may be configured the same way, and a side view of the positioning tool 76 is also shown with reference to Fig. 9.

[0046] The positioning tool 76 has a generally cylindrical shaped construction and has a central axis 80 that extends through its center. The positioning tool 76 has a body 82 into which a plurality of slots 78 are defined. The slots extend in the axial direction 86 of the positioning tool 76 which extends in the direction of the central axis 80. The center of the body 82 may be hollow so that all of the slots 78 are in communication with this hollow interior. The slots 78 thus extend in a radial direction 84 of the positioning tool 76 from the hollow interior of the body 82 to an outer surface of the body 82. The positioning tool 76 also has a series of ramped fingers 88 that extend from the body 82 in the axial direction 86 to a first terminal end 96 of the positioning tool 76. The ramped fingers 88 extend outward in the radial direction 84 of the positioning tool 76 upon their extension away from the body 82 in the axial direction 86. The ramped fingers 88 of each positioning tool 76 can be angled the same amount in the radial direction 84 and may extend the same length in the axial direction 86. Six ramped fingers 88 are present and are arranged so that they allow the six slots 78 to be open at the end of the body 82. The ramped fingers 88 are also positioned so that the hollow interior of the body 82 is open at the end of the body 82. [0047] The ramped fingers 88 may have a fixed position relative to the body 82 so that the ramped fingers 88 do not move relative to the body 82. The ramped fingers 88 are located at the first terminal end 96 of the positioning tool 76, and the positioning tool 76 has an oppositely disposed second terminal end 98 in the axial direction 86. An aperture 102 may be present at the second terminal end 98 and can extend from the second terminal end 98 to the hollow interior of the body 82. It may be the case that the positioning tool 76 has an opening that extends all the way from the first terminal end 96 to the second terminal end 98 in the axial direction 86.

[0048] In order to attach the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44, these sections are assembled in their position relative to one another as previously discussed with reference to Fig. 7. Next, the positioning tool 76 may be used to engage the various sections 40, 42, and 44 and position them into a location in which they may be adhered. Fig. 10 shows the sections 40, 42 and 44 arranged as shown in Fig. 7, and shows the various positioning tools 76 fixed onto a single bracket being moved in the axial direction 24 and into engagement with the sections 40, 42 and 44. The first terminal end 96 moves past the sections 40, 42 and 44 in the axial direction 24 so that the sections 40, 42 and 44 are then located within a cavity formed by the ramped fingers 88. Continued movement of the positioning tool 76 in the axial direction 24 causes the sections 40, 42 and 44 to engage the ramped fingers 88, and to be drawn closer to one another in the radial direction 22. This movement in the radial direction 22 is caused by the angled arrangement of the ramped fingers 88. Tension is imparted onto the inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44 due to this pulling in the radial direction 22. As the positioning tool 76 continues further in the axial direction 24, the sections 40, 42 and 44 are then received into the slots 78. At this stage, tension is no longer added to the inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44, but the tension already applied by the positioning tool 76 is still maintained.

[0049] Fig. 11 shows the positioning tool 76 completely inserted into the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44. The slots 78 may be completely filled with the sections 40, 42 and 44. In some arrangements, all of the sections 40, 42 and 44 are located within the body 82. In other versions, some of the sections 40, 42 and 44 are in the body 82 when the positioning tool 76 is completely inserted, and other portions of the sections 40, 42 and 44 are outside of the body 82 in the axial direction 86 of the positioning tool 76 and are located within the cavity formed by the positioning fingers 88 and may or may not be in contact with the positioning fingers 88.

[0050] Fig. 12 shows an opposite view from that of Figs. 10 and 11 where the engagement of the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 with the body 82 inside the slots 78 of the body 82 is shown. The interface ring 42 in some embodiments may stretch and thus have tension applied thereto as well. Fig. 13 shows the sections 40, 42 and 44 located within the body 82 in the slots 78. The inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44 may fill the four slots they are located within as they may be stretched toward one another in the radial direction 22. The interface ring 42 may likewise fill the pair of slots 78 it occupies as well, and may or may not be stretched in the radial direction 22. The interface ring 42 may fill the pair of slots 78, and along with the other two sections 40 and 44, and seal the slots 78 so that adhesive cannot travel through the central cavity of the body 82 and out of the slots 78.

However, in other arrangements the sections 40, 42 and 44 do not completely seal the slots 78 so that some space exists to extend from the outside of the body 82 to the inner hollow cavity of the body 82 in the radial direction 84 of the positioning tool 76. The body 82 has an inner cavity that can be an adhesive cavity 94 that is open on an axial end to the aperture 102. As shown, the sections 40, 42 and 44 are within the adhesive cavity 94 defined by these sections and the interior surfaces of the body 82.

[0051] As the opening between the adhesive cavity 94 and the hollow cavity along the central axis 80 in the ramped fingers 88 would allow adhesive to leak from the adhesive cavity 94 during insertion, a close out piece 90 may be provided to seal off this opening. The close out piece 90 is shown in Fig. 14, with the ramped fingers 88 shown in phantom lines for clarity, and is shown in side view in Fig. 9 upon its positioning within the ramped fingers 88 and next to the body 82. The close out piece 90 is moved into interaction with the positioning tool 76 in the opposite direction of travel of the positioning tool 76 in the axial direction 24 with respect to the sections 40, 42 and 44. The close out piece 90 may move past the first terminal end 96 in the axial direction 24 and through the cavity formed by the ramped fingers 88 until it engages the axial edges of the sections 40, 42 and 44. This location in the axial direction 24 should also correspond with the axial end of the body 82 so that it is likewise located at the axial end of the body 82. The close out piece 90 has a series of radial fingers 92 that extend from the center of the close out piece 90 and correspond with the edges of the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44. The shapes of the radial fingers 92 correspond with the extension of the edges of the sections 40, 42 and 44 in the radial and circumferential directions 22 and 26. There may be six radial fingers 92 in order to correspond to the six slots.

[0052] The close out piece 90 may simply be placed against the supporting structure 16 to form the adhesive cavity 94 and prevent adhesive from leaking out. The close out piece 90 may also be urged in the axial direction 24 against the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 in order to help push these elements into the positioning tool 76 such as into the slots 78 of the positioning tool 76. The pushing of the close out piece 90 may function to help register the elements 40, 42 and 44 into their designated locations in the positioning tool 76.

[0053] A plurality of close out pieces 90 can be held on a common bracket and moved in unison so that all of them move in the axial direction 24 at the same time. Fig. 15 shows a plurality of close out pieces 90 inserted into the various positioning tools 76 along a circumferential section. The close out pieces 90 may be used at the same time as one another and can be moved

simultaneously with the movement of the positioning tools 76 from the opposite side. With the close out piece 90 in place, the adhesive cavity 94 is closed off at its axial end as shown for instance in Fig. 9. The adhesive cavity 94 is open at its opposite axial end as the aperture 102 extends from the second terminal end 98 to the adhesive cavity 94 and is in communication with the adhesive cavity 94.

[0054] With the close out piece 90 in place, adhesive can be injected through the aperture

102 and into the adhesive cavity 94. The adhesive may engage the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 and completely fill the adhesive cavity 94 so that no space is present therein other than the presence of these components 40, 42 and 44 and the adhesive. The adhesive may also engage the surface of the close out piece 90 that closes the adhesive cavity 94. Once the adhesive is cured or set, the close out piece 90 and the positioning tool

76 can be removed by being moved in the axial direction 24 away from one another. Fig. 16 shows a positioning tool 76 in which its corresponding close out piece 90 is removed to reveal a connection formed by the adhesive between the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44. This connection may be along the entire lengths of the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 in the axial direction 24. As the connection is made when the inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44 are pulled towards one another and held in tension, application of the adhesion and creation of the resulting connection results in the formation of pre-tension on the inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44. If the interface ring 42 is likewise pulled in the radial direction 22 by the positioning tool 76 and then held when adhesion is applied, it may also have pre-tension imparted thereon. Also, in other versions no pre-tension is applied, or pre-tension may be applied to any one of or any combination of the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44. The positioning tool 76 may pull elements of the supporting structure 16 into tension for forming pre-tension of the supporting structure 16, while at the same time creating a cavity into which adhesive can be injected.

[0055] Various types of adhesives can be used in the adhering step in order to attach the components 40, 42 and 44. Different adhesives may require different interface thicknesses which would be controlled by the positioning tool 76 at the adhesive cavity 94. The adhesive may be injected into the aperture 102 by robotically positioning a single injection nozzle sequentially at each one of the apertures 102 of the various positioning tools 76. Alternatively, an injection manifold could be mated to all of the apertures 102 at a single time to apply adhesive to all of the adhesive cavities 94 at a single point in time. After the adhesive is inserted into the adhesive cavities 94, the positioning tools 76 are left for a time period for the adhesive to cure or cool, and if desired may be placed into an oven to expedite the process. The positioning tools 76 could be actively heated or cooled depending upon the type of adhesive employed, whether a thermosetting or thermoplastic type.

[0056] Both the positioning tool 76 and the close out piece 90 are shown as being removed from the components 40, 42 and 44 in Fig. 17 to reveal the connection that is formed by the adhesion. The other positioning tools 76 and close out pieces 90 can be removed at the same time as well if desired so that all of the positioning tools 76 and close out pieces 90 are removed with one another from the adhered connection at the same time. A plurality of adhered connections may then be made all around the circumferential lengths of the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 to effect attachment of these components in the non-pneumatic tire 10.

[0057] Although described as first pulling the inner and outer V shaped spoke sections 40 and 44 and then subsequently applying the adhesive, these steps can be removed in other exemplary embodiments. For example, adhesive can first be applied to the interface ring 42 and/or to the inner and outer V shaped spoke sections 40 and 44. Next, the inner and outer V shaped spoke sections 40 and 44 can be brought into engagement with the interface ring 42 and the adhesive already applied will effect attachment of these components 40, 42 and 44. Pre-tension may or may not be imparted as desired to the components 40, 42 and 44 and is thus not required in assembly of the intermediate section 14.

[0058] As described, the positioning tool 76 is itself not actuated, but instead the pre-tension is formed by the ramped fingers 88 drawing the sections 40 and 44 inward and then holding them in pre-tension by the body 82 during adhesion. The holding and the pre-tension could alternatively be applied by an actuated clamp 100 as illustrated in Figs. 18 and 19. The actuated clamp 100 has a pair of arms that extend from the body 82 in the axial direction 86 and can be moved between an open position as shown in Fig. 18 and a closed position as shown in Fig. 19. The actuated clamp 100 can be moved into position relative to the inner V pair spoke section 40 and the outer V pair spoke section 44 when they are positioned as previously described with reference to Fig. 7. The actuated clamp 100 is in the open position and the arms are positioned above and below the components 40 and 44 in the radial direction 22 at the connection point. Actuation of the actuated clamp 100 would cause the arms to engage the components 40 and 44 and pull them together at the connection point. Adhesion could be subsequently applied while the actuated clamp 100 is actuated and holding the components 40 and 44 in tension. Upon setting of the adhesion, the actuated clamp 100 may be opened so that the arms move out of engagement with the components 40 and 44. The actuated clamp 100 may be moved away from the components 40 and 44, and the set pre-tension may remain upon subsequent assembly of the non-pneumatic tire 10.

[0059] Although described as using an actuated clamp 100 in order to pull the components 40 and 44, other types of devices may be used to clamp them and thus pull them into position and hold them in place during adhesion. An actuated positioning tool 104 is shown in Fig. 20 in an unactuated position. Here, the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 are positioned inside of the slots 78 of the actuated positioning tool 104. The fingers 108 may extend from the body 82 but need not be angled as described in other embodiments. The fingers 108 may be actuated as shown in Fig. 21 in which a force 106 is exerted by each finger 108 as they move inward in the radial direction 84 relative to the body 82. The fingers 108 engage the inner V pair spoke section 40, interface ring 42, and outer V pair spoke section 44 and pull them into tension. The interface ring 42 may not be pulled into tension in some arrangements. The force 106 may continue to be applied while adhesion is dispensed into the adhesive cavity 94 while the end can be closed by a close out piece 90 (not shown). After adhesion, the force 106 can be released and the fingers 108 can move back into the positions shown in Fig. 20 and the supporting structure 16 can be subsequently moved out of the slots 78.

[0060] Figs. 22 and 23 disclose an alternate mechanism of assembling the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44. The outer V pair spoke section 44 may be integrally formed through molding with the inner shear band ring 18. The outer V pair spoke section 44 may thus extend inward in the radial direction 22 from the inner surface 52 of the inner shear band ring 18. The inner shear band ring 18 may then in turn be connected to the inner surface of the outer shear band ring 12 to form the shear band 56. A two piece interlocking fastener 46 may be used to connect the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 to one another during their assembly. The two piece interlocking fastener 46 is made up of a first piece 48 and a second piece 50. The first piece 48 has a body that is shaped to correspond with a void of a V shaped spoke of the outer V pair spoke section 44. Each one of the voids of the V shaped spokes of the outer V pair spoke section 44 may be fitted with one of the first pieces 48. The first piece 48 includes a series of projections that extend through the outer

V pair spoke section 44 and the interface ring 42. The projections likewise extend through the inner

V pair spoke section 40 and into a second piece 50 of the two piece interlocking mechanical fastener 46. The second piece 50 has a shape that corresponds to the void defined by the V shaped spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40. Each one of the voids of the V shaped spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40 may be fitted with a second piece 50. The projections lock into the second piece 50 to form a secure connection that functions to connect the inner V pair spoke section 40, the interface ring 42, and the outer V pair spoke section 44 to one another.

[0061] The first piece 48 may be attached to the outer V pair spoke section 44 through adhesion, and the second piece 50 may likewise be attached to the inner V pair spoke section 40 through adhesion. Adhesive may also be used to help connect the projections of the first piece 48 into the apertures of the second piece 50. This adhesive is used to form the connection between the components 40, 42 and 44. There may be a single first piece 48 in each spoke of the outer V pair spoke section 44, or there may be multiple first pieces 48 disposed along the length of the spoke in the axial direction 24. Likewise, there may be but a single second piece 50 in each one of the spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40, or there may be multiple second pieces 50 along the axial length of the spokes of the inner V pair spoke section 40. [0062] The intermediate section 14 may then be assembled into the outer shear band ring 12, and if the intermediate section 14 includes an inner shear band ring 18 the two shear band rings 12 and 18 can be adhered to one another to form the resulting shear band ring 56. The hub 20 if not all ready attached could be attached to the intermediate section 14 at this point. Multiple intermediate sections may be formed and incorporated to form the non-pneumatic tire 10. Fig. 24 shows an exploded assembly view of the non-pneumatic tire 10 that includes three intermediate sections 14, 38 and 34. The first intermediate section 14 may be composed in any of the manners as previously discussed. A second intermediate section 28 can include a second supporting structure 30 that has a second inner V pair spoke section 64, a second interface ring 66, and a second outer V pair spoke section 68. These components 64, 66 and 68 may be arranged in the same manners and attached to one another in the same manners as previously discussed with respect to the first inner V pair spoke section 40, the first interface ring 42, and the first outer V pair spoke section 44. The second intermediate section 28 may also have a second inner shear band ring 32 arranged in a similar manner as the first inner shear band ring 18.

[0063] A third intermediate section 34 may also be provided and can have a third supporting structure 36 composed of a third inner V pair spoke section 70, a third interface ring 72, and a third outer V pair spoke section 74. These components 70, 72 and 74 can be arranged and attached in manners similar to those previously discussed with respect to the first inner V pair spoke section 40, first interface ring 42, and first outer V pair spoke section 44 and a repeat of this information is not necessary. The third intermediate section 34 may have a third inner shear band ring 38 arranged in the same way as the first inner shear band ring 18 and can be attached to the interior of the outer shear band ring 12 to form the resulting shear band ring 56.

[0064] The three intermediate sections 14, 28 and 34 can be formed in the manners previously discussed and may then be collapsed and moved one at a time or all at the same time into the outer shear band ring 12. The intermediate sections 14, 28 and 34 may then be moved from the collapsed state into engagement with the outer shear band ring 12 and adhesive between the inner shear band rings 18, 32 and 38 may be cured for attachment with the outer shear band ring 12. The hub 20 may be attached to the interiors of the three intermediate sections 14, 28 and 34 if not all ready attached. Although shown as employing three intermediate sections 14, 28 and 34, any number of intermediate sections may be used to form the non-pneumatic tire 10 in other exemplary embodiments. For example, 1, 2, from 3-5, or up to 10 intermediate sections may be incorporated into the non-pneumatic tire 10 in other arrangements.

[0065] While the present invention has been described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the subject matter encompassed by way of the present invention is not to be limited to those specific embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended for the subject matter of the invention to include all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be included within the spirit and scope of the following claims.