The Gear: Nonagenerian Engineer Helps Goodyear Realize Better Retread

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Robert L. Miller PE, FAIChEWhen Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company of Akron, Ohio saw a way to make longerlived, high-performance truck tire retreads replacing traditional “cushion gum” strips with round, three-layer extrusions that combine cushion and adhesion with heat resistance—it sought a supplier able to extrude the flexible rods at marketable cost. A Goodyear consultant mentioned the challenge to local consulting engineer Bob Miller, Omicron ’41, and the 90-year-old extrusion expert offered advice. Armed with Miller’s wood models and his knack for adapting used equipment, the resulting startup, StarPoint Extrusions of Norton, Ohio, is now in production as Goodyear’s key supplier—its use of three rubber extruders continuously feeding one finished-product line is said to be a first. In February 2012 in Cologne, Germany a Tire Technology International jury of professionals and academics named Goodyear’s Retread Multi-Piece Cushion technology its 2011 Tire Manufacturing Innovation of the Year.

Robert L. Miller PE, FAIChE is a consulting professional engineer and the former president of Prime Plastics of Clinton, Ohio. An internationally published authority on rubber plastics extrusion and corrugating technology, he has helped set both manufacturing and product standards as a member of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the Society of Plastics Engineers, the Corrugated Plastic Tubing Association, and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, which elected him a Fellow in 1988. A graduate of the University of Iowa and Case Institute of Technology, he was inducted to the Theta Tau Alumni Hall of Fame in 1992.