Hutchinson boosts tyre sustainability with new manufacturing technology
PARIS, France - Hutchinson Cycling has developed Gridskin - a tyre reinforcement technology which it says, “has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental impact of manufacturing”. Two limited edition Gridskin models are being released which can be manufactured with less waste and fewer processes whilst maintaining a high performance.
Bicycle tyres are often shipped great distances, with raw materials located far from manufacturing and even further from point of sale. This has prompted a re-think in production processes and a move to more sustainable options such as previously noted by Continental and Schwalbe.
‘Green-ing’ the tyre manufacturing processes
French bicycle manufacturer, Hutchinson, with a 100-year-old tradition of manufacturing in Châlette-sur-Loing, France, obtains raw materials from European suppliers and collaborates with fabric manufacturers from France and neighbouring countries. “Even so, tyres account for a sizeable amount of waste from both the cycling industry during production; and by the consumer, once the tyre has reached the end of its lifetime,” the company laments.
Keen to further address sustainability and take greater responsibility for its global footprint as a manufacturer, Hutchinson set up a ‘Green Team’ of senior management, R&D and engineers to analyse every detail of the current manufacturing process and minimise the environmental impact. The team developed, tested and improved multiple possible iterations and manufacturing processes with direct conversation between the lab and the production line on-site at the Hutchinson factory. The outcome being Gridskin.
No end of life recycling
Although Gridskin’s design allows for significantly reduced environmental impact during manufacturing, there is no mention of what the company is doing to support ‘end of life’ recycling of their tyres. Sustainable manufacturing of tyres is just one step in the chain with bike tyre and inner tube recycling schemes in the industry being few and far between.
Gridskin is a reptile-like knitted mesh construction which provides protective reinforcement
Reduced number of processing steps
With Gridskin, the number of processing steps involved in the manufacture of tyres with this reinforcement is reduced from 4 to 1. This streamlined processing also reduces the waste generated and the emissions associated with these steps (less plastic, less rubber and less electricity).
“Gridskin, is a reptile-like knitted mesh construction which provides protective reinforcement designed to isolate tyre damage and prevent sharp debris progressing deeper, eventually creating larger holes and punctures. This increases the usable lifetime of the product. Gridskin is also lighter than previous protections (8% lighter vs the Hardskin Touareg model) and is effective at lower tyre pressures, allowing riders to achieve a superior blend of protection, performance, weight and traction,” Hutchinson said in a launch statement.
Limited edition models
Hutchinson has released two limited edition models using Gridskin – the tubeless Fusion 5 Performance Road tyre in 700x28mm and the brand’s flagship tubeless gravel tyre Touareg, in 700x40mm. The limited-edition versions have been produced ‘Naked’ (without printed sidewall labels) as this also greatly reduces the amount of scrap. Special minimalist packaging has been assembled in France, using recycled paper.