US firm expands puncture-proof tyre project
By Mike McNulty, Rubber & Plastics News
Rome, Georgia-Urethane International LLC hopes to create a nationwide network of about 500 dealers to handle its recently patented polyurethane foam puncture-proof material and machines.
The company has added machinery at its Rome plant to handle new business created with the introduction of the foam, which is used in tyres. In addition, the firm is marketing its puncture-proof tyre/wheel assemblies under the trade name Flatproof Tires.
Urethane International now is equipped to fill large orders for makers of off-road wheeled equipment, said Joseph Danules, president and chief executive officer. Interest has been high in the foam-filled tyres and once dealers are set up with the firm’s recently developed portable machines – called Flatproofing Stations – he expects it to grow significantly.
Flatproofing Stations fill tyres with PU Superlite Safety Foam Fill, which prevents them from going flat, Danules said. If the nationwide programme is successful, the firm plans to expand the project globally.
Urethane International’s machines are made primarily for tyres used on vehicles that don’t exceed 25 miles per hour (40 kph), including lawn mowers, tractors, wheelchairs, bicycles, wheelbarrows and construction vehicles, Danules said.
The urethane foam is about a third of the weight of other tyre fillings, such as those used in construction equipment, making it possible to use the fill in smaller tyres, he said.
Danules came up with the idea for the machines when the owner of another Rome-based company suggested a lightweight foam fill was needed. That firm makes wheel-tyre mounts for off-road vehicles and fills tyres with traditional heavy filling to prevent flats – a method that can’t be used in numerous applications.
The heavy fill consists of PU and oil that’s mixed and cured for 24 hours. It weighs about 65 pounds per cubic foot (1040 kg/m3).
“We developed a lightweight, pure polyurethane fill with no oil,” Danules said. “It’s great for the environment and weighs only 18 pounds per cubic foot (288.3 kg/m3). It’s poured in as a liquid and foams up.”
By supplying and setting up dealers nationwide with the firm’s portable equipment, Urethane International will make the technology readily available to all users, said Danules, who expects to hit the 500-dealer mark in three years.
Urethane International has contracts with lift and construction equipment manufacturers, Danules said. It also has an agreement to fill tyres for all equipment produced for Home Depot Inc.’s tool rental division in the US.