Using MTI’s Microtrak II to Determine Tire Tread Depth and Runout

Tire failures and defects can cause serious accidents and other hazards. As a result, tire manufacturers are taking extreme care to determine the quality of tires. There is a need for safe and durable tires that provide a smooth and vibration-free ride.

In order to meet customers’ demand and also to protect themselves from liability issues, tire manufacturers are performing complete tire inspection to rule out defects and abnormalities.

Tire Defects

In addition to causing potential safety problems, defects can introduce unnecessary vibration into the suspension system of the vehicle. To overcome this issue, manufacturers consider a number of factors, such as tread depth, tread consistency, tire runout, and overall tire quality.

Tread depth

Figure 1. Tread depth

During the tire molding process, extreme care should be taken because at each production stage quality can be compromised. For instance, belts may not cover the entire tire surface or can be overlapped, which can create imbalance and result in bubbled or weak areas. In addition, the depth of the tread can be too low and affect the service life of the tire (Figure 1), and tires that are uneven can cause vibration and excessive runout. However, if these issues are kept within satisfactory limits, improved and better quality products can be developed.

Laser Displacement Sensors

A leading tire manufacture sought the help of MTI Instruments to provide a suitable solution to determine the excessive runout, tread depth and blistering issues. The manufacturer required a non-contact sensor with a minimum standoff of 100mm, a 40mm measurement range, and a frequency response higher than 5kHz. Moreover, the package must be able to operate continuously in aggressive production environment.

Microtrak II laser displacement sensor

Figure 2. Microtrak II laser displacement sensor

Application engineers at MTI worked with the customer and ultimately developed the Microtrak II laser displacement sensor (Figure 2). Following initial testing, the customer found that the sensor can successfully perform all the three measurements concurrently.


The Microtrak II laser displacement sensor interacted with the customer’s data acquisition (DAQ) solution via the RS-485 interface. After each signal was studied, tires that were found to be beyond the predetermined acceptable limits were discarded. With the adjustable filter set at 10kHz, the sensor system was able to achieve a measurement resolution of 20mµ. The standoff surpassed the client’s requirement and reduced the odds of further damage to the laser head.


MTI’s laser displacement sensors offer measurement solution for tire runout and tread depth applications. The company develops high precision lasers and capacitance and fiber-optic solutions having frequency responses to 500kHz and resolutions up to 1nm.

About MTI Instruments

MTI Instruments is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and engineering of non-contact measurement systems and sensors.

MTII’s main products consist of computerized general gauging instruments for position, displacement, thickness and vibration applications based on laser triangulation, fiber-optic and capacitance measurement technologies.

The Semiconductor Products sensor group manufactures manual, semi-automated and fully automated wafer characterization tools designed to measure wafer thickness, total thickness variation (TTV), bow, warp and flatness of semi-insulating and semiconducting materials.

MTII’s Aviation Balancing Instruments group provides state-of-the-art portable balancing and vibration analysis systems for turboprop and jet aircraft engines.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by MTI Instruments.

For more information on this source, please visit MTI Instruments.


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