What’s mechanical fastener for polyurethane wheels

2021-05-31 19:47:36 admin

Conventional polyurethane wheels are manufactured by coating a steel hub with an adhesive layer, placing the hub in a mold, and pouring liquid polyurethane into the mold where the adhesive layer bonds the polyurethane to the steel hub. The adhesive layer may include an epoxy, phenolic, or urethane layer, for example. When manufacturing a wheel in this manner, the polyurethane and adhesive layer are typically cured together at a specific temperature. For proper curing to occur, the wheel assembly must reach a uniform temperature. Large wheels, for example up to 300 lbs. (136 kg) or more, are especially difficult to cure because of their large thermal inertia.

However, the adhesive-enabled bond between the polyurethane tires and the hub fails at an unacceptable rate. Moreover, manufacturers cannot reliably determine whether a particular bonded wheel, or batch of bonded wheels, will fail because the quality of the bond cannot be verified during manufacture.

Aside from manufacturing issues, dissipation of heat during use of wheels is also of concern. Bonds between a hub and a wheel fail because of a property called hysteresis. Hysteresis occurs during heavy loads on the wheel whereby the polyurethane tire heats up and melts near the hub, causing the polyurethane tire to slip, or tear, off of the hub. To mitigate hysteresis, larger forklifts sometimes use tires with grooves where loads and operating conditions are extreme. The purpose of the grooves is to release heat in order to prevent tire failure due to hysteresis. To mitigate the problem of hysteresis with polyurethane tires, other materials, such as rubber, have been used.

Using rubber tires may mitigate the hysteresis problem, but rubber tires are an unsatisfactory substitute to polyurethane tires in many applications, such as with lift trucks. In such applications, polyurethane tires do not wear as fast as rubber tires, have a higher weight capacity than rubber tires, have reduced rolling resistance resulting in prolonged battery life, and exhibit superior abrasion and chemical resistance as opposed to rubber tires. Moreover, as a result of the higher weight capacity, most electric lift trucks require polyurethane tires because of the additional weight of the batteries used to power the lift and propel the lift truck. Therefore, for many types of lift trucks, and other applications, polyurethane tires may be required.

Another disadvantage of polyurethane tires is that they are made of a harder compound than rubber tires, making an operator's ride more uncomfortable, particularly on uneven ground. Moreover, in such conventional polyurethane wheels, a user replaces a polyurethane tire by replacing the entire polyurethane tires/metal hub combination as a result of the bond between the tire and hub thereby wasting the hub where only the polyurethane tire is worn.

Therefore, there is a need for an improved means for affixing polyurethane tires to a hub so that the polyurethane tire may be replaced while allowing the metal hub to be reused. Moreover, there is a need for improved manufacturing processes for producing polyurethane wheels.

A wheel for supporting an industrial vehicle is disclosed. The wheel includes a tire and a hub. The tire is at least partially formed of polyurethane and has an inner diameter and an outer diameter. The hub includes an annular portion having an outer diameter about equal to the inner diameter of the tire. The hub further includes one or more retention elements configured to releasably mount the tire to the hub.

According to several embodiments, a wheel configured to support a lift truck includes a tire and a hub. The tire is at least partially formed of polyurethane and has an inner diameter and an outer diameter. The tire is configured to support at least about 1000 pounds. The hub includes an annular portion having an outer diameter about equal to the inner diameter of the tire. The wheel includes means for releasably mounting the tire to the hub. A surface on the tire also corresponds to a surface on the hub. The corresponding surfaces of the tire and the hub are configured to oppose relative motion between the tire and the hub.

A method for manufacturing a wheel is also disclosed. The method includes molding a tire at least partially formed of polyurethane, the tire having an outer diameter and an inner diameter. The method further includes providing a hub. The hub includes an annular portion having an outer diameter about equal to the inner diameter of the tire. The method further includes mounting the tire about an outer surface of the hub, wherein the act of molding the tire is performed prior to the act of mounting the tire to the hub.

These and other aspects of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims.

To further clarify the above and other aspects of the present invention, a more particular description of the invention will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof which are illustrated in the appended drawings. It is appreciated that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are therefore not to be considered limiting of its scope. The invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings.