Some content of this application is unavailable at the moment.
If this situation persist, please contact us atFeedback&Contact
1. (WO2019005123) CARVING HEAD FOR FORMING GROOVES IN CURED TIRES
Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

CARVING HEAD FOR FORMING GROOVES IN CURED TIRES

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to a carving head for creating grooves into tires that are already cured. More particularly, the present application involves a carving head with a modular blade configuration for cutting multiple grooves at a time into a cured tire in which the grooves may be offset from the side of the tread.

BACKGROUND

[0002] Tire tread includes various architectural features such as grooves, ribs, and tread blocks. These features are molded into the tire through the curing process. However, it may be desired to add additional features into the tire tread after the tread has been cured. It may be more cost effective to add these features after curing as opposed to changing the mold to achieve the desired tread pattern. Further, it may be the case that a tread feature cannot be molded into the tread in a satisfactory manner, or it may be the case that one desires to modify a tread design after the fact.

[0003] One known process of adding features to a tread after it has been cured utilizes a hand held carving head that has a single heated blade. The operator positions the carving head next to the side of the tire tread and moves it in an axial direction so that the heated blade engages the tire tread. Continued application of force causes the heated blade to cut a groove into the side of the cured tread that is open both on the top and the outer side of the tread.

Continued inward motion in the axial direction is maintained until the desired groove length in the axial direction is achieved. Once the desired axial length is reached, the operator reverses the direction of the carving head so that it moves in the axial direction opposite to that causing the initial cut. The operator may then rotate the tire so that a new section of the tire tread is presented for cutting of the next groove by the operator.

[0004] Although it is known to cut grooves into cured tire tread, known cutting processes are not capable of making these grooves at locations on the tire tread other than those locations extending inward from the side of the tire tread. This is because the carving head must move in from the side in the axial direction, thus necessarily beginning its cutting at the side of the tire tread to result in a groove that is open at this location. Further, the use of a carving head that has a single blade only allows for grooves to be made that are cut one at a time resulting in a labor intensive, slow process. Also, the carving head does not have a modular style design and cannot accommodate different cutting blades for differently desired tread patterns. As such, there remains room for variation and improvement within the art.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0005] A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth more particularly in the remainder of the specification, which makes reference to the appended Figs, in which:

[0006] Fig. 1 is a front view of a carving post that has a carving head capable of cutting grooves into a cured tire.

[0007] Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a carving head.

[0008] Fig. 3 is a front view of the carving head of Fig. 2.

[0009] Fig. 4 is a side view of the carving head of Fig. 2.

[0010] Fig. 5 is a top view of the carving head of Fig. 2.

[0011] Fig. 6 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of the carving head.

[0012] Fig. 7 is a front view of the carving head of Fig. 6.

[0013] Fig. 8 is a side view of the carving head of Fig. 6.

[0014] Fig. 9 is a top view of the carving head of Fig. 6.

[0015] Repeat use of reference characters in the present specification and drawings is intended to represent the same or analogous features or elements of the invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF REPRESENTATIVE EMBODIMENTS

[0016] Reference will now be made in detail to embodiments of the invention, one or more examples of which are illustrated in the drawings. Each example is provided by way of

explanation of the invention, and not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment can be used with another embodiment to yield still a third embodiment. It is intended that the present invention include these and other modifications and variations.

[0017] A carving head 10 is provided that makes grooves 70 into tread 72 of a cured tire 12. The grooves 70 can be cut into locations of the tread 72 that are spaced from side edges 74, 76 of the tread 72 so that the grooves 70 do not extend to the side edges 74, 76. In this regard, the grooves 70 can be placed into interior features of the tread 72 and are not required to be extended from the side edges 74, 76 into the interior of the tread 72. The carving head 10 features a plurality of blades 20 that are heated by a heating element 22 carried by a frame 14 of the carving head 10. The carving head 10 is modular in that the blades 20 are releasably attachable to the frame 14 so that they can be attached and removed from the frame 14 when desired. If a different set of grooves 70 are desired, the appropriate blades 20 can be installed onto the frame 14. In this regard, a blade mounting assembly 16 engages the blades 20 and is attachable to and from the frame 14 so that the blades 20 are in turn attachable to and removable from the frame 14. An attachment mechanism 18 attaches the blade mounting assembly 16 to and from the frame 14 to in turn render this assembly and the blades 20 attachable to and from the frame 14. The carving head 10 thus accommodates different numbers and designs of the blades 20, and provides a device capable of cutting grooves 70 into the cured tire 12 into positions spaced from the side edges 74, 76.

[0018] Fig. 1 shows a carving post 52 that is used to cut grooves 70 into a cured tire 12. The carving post 52 includes a rotary/cross-slide table 50 that rests onto the ground 78. A lever press 48 is held by the rotary/cross-slide table 50 and can be moved in a longitudinal direction 36 and vertical direction 34 by the rotary/cross-slide table 50. The rotary/cross-slide table 50 includes handles that can be turned to effect movement of the attached lever press 48.

Alternatively, the rotary/cross-slide table 50 may be actuated by button or switch, or may be automatically actuated to move. In addition to moving the lever press 48 in the longitudinal direction 36 and vertical direction 34, the rotary/cross-slide table 50 may also move the lever press 48 in a lateral direction 32, or may rotate it about its axis. The lever press 48 extends upwards from the rotary/cross-slide table 50 in the vertical direction 34, and a mounting adapter 54 engages the lever press 48 in order to in turn attach the carving head 10 to the lever press 48.

The mounting adapter 54 may include holes for bolts to attach the mounting adapter 54 to the lever press 48, and may include projections that are received within apertures of the lever press 48 to effect connection. Any type of attachment mechanism or design may be used to effect attachment of the mounting adapter 54 to cause the carving head 10 to be carried by the lever press 48. It is to be understood that the lever press 48 and the rotary/cross- slide table 50 can be variously arranged and need not be present in other embodiments, and can make the carving head 10 move in any desired direction. Actuation of the lever of the lever press 48 may cause the carving head 10 to exhibit any kind of motion. Various mechanical or electromechanical or manual arrangements can be used to cause the carving head 10 to move in desired directions and it is to be understood that the displayed embodiment is only exemplary and that others are possible in other versions of the design.

[0019] A cured tire 12 is located at the carving post 52 and is mounted onto a post 80 so that the cured tire 12 is located off of the ground 78 in the vertical direction 34. The cured tire 12 can be rotated around the post 80 so that different portions of the cured tire 12 can be presented to the carving head 10. In use, the carving head 10 may be positioned over the cured tire 12 in the vertical direction 34 through movement of the lever press 48 by the rotary/cross-slide table 50. The operator may then actuate the handle of the lever press 48 so that the carving head 10 digs into the tread 72. This initial dig in and contact with the tread 72 may occur at a section of the tread 72 that is spaced inward from both the side edge 74 and the side edge 76. The tread 72 has a first side section 84 that extends from the side edge 74 to a middle section 86 of the tread 72 in the longitudinal direction 36. A second side section 88 extends from the side edge 76 to the middle section 86 in the longitudinal direction 36. The middle section 86 is between both the first and second side sections 84, 88 and like these sections 84, 88 extends completely 360 degrees in the circumferential direction around the cured tire 12. Various architectural features of the tread 72 are included in the sections 84, 86, and 88 such as grooves and tread blocks. A circumferential groove 82 is located at the boundary of the first side section 84 and the middle section 86.

[0020] The initial dig in and contact with the tread 72 may be at the middle section 86 and not at the first side section 84 or the second side section 88. In this regard, the starting of the cut of the grooves 70 occurs at a section of tread 72 spaced from both of the side edges 74, 76 and does not start at the side edges 74 or 76. As shown, the initial cut begins at the top of the tread 72, and in some instances a portion of the blades 20 may or may not be within the circumferential groove 82 that bounds the first side section 84 and the middle section 86.

Actuation of the handle of the lever press 48 forces the blades 20 of the carving head 10 into the tread 72 in the vertical direction 34. The carving head is moved in the vertical direction 34, which is the same as the radial direction of the cured tire 12, until the desired depth of grooves 70 are cut. Once grooves 70 of a desired depth are cut, the carving head 10 can be moved in the vertical direction 34 by movement of the handle of the lever press 48. In some instances, once the desired depth is reached the carving head 10 could be moved in the longitudinal direction 36 to aid in its removal from the cut grooves 70 and to possibly help extract rubber that was cut from the cut grooves 70. The cutting motion of the carving head 10 can be a slow motion cut or dig in cut in that it is moved in the vertical direction 34 into the tread 72to cut the tread 72 and then removed from the tread 72 by being moved in the vertical direction 34. Although described as actuating the handle of the lever press 48 to make the carving head 10 move in certain directions, it is to be understood that any type of actuation of the lever press 48 can be implemented in order to move the carving head 10 in the vertical direction 34, the longitudinal direction 36, the lateral direction, or any type of direction relative to the cured tire 12.Although the grooves 70 are described as being arranged in the longitudinal direction 36, they may be angled with respect to the longitudinal direction 36 so that they have a component that extends both in the longitudinal direction 36 and in the circumferential direction about the cured tire 12. The grooves 70 displayed in Fig. 1 are in this sort of arrangement in that they are angled in the longitudinal direction 36. Once the grooves 70 are formed, the blades 20 are moved by the carving head 10 in the direction of the grooves 70 so that if the grooves 70 are angled, the blades 20 may likewise be moved out of the cured tire 12 by being moved in a direction having components both in the longitudinal direction 36 and in the circumferential direction.

[0021] After the grooves 70 are cut into the tread 72, the cured tire 12 can be indexed about the post 80 by being rotated some amount until the next desired section of tread 72 for cutting is presented to the carving head 10. As the carving head 10 has only a certain amount of blades 20, multiple cutting motions are made in order to put all of the desired grooves 70 into the cured tire 12. Other sections of the tread 72 may be cut in the vertical direction 34 by positioning the carving head 10 in the proper location in the vertical direction 34, or by flipping the cured tire 12 on the post 80. The grooves 70 that are cut may be of any number, size, or

shape. The grooves70 cut by the carving head 10 may be thin grooves less than 2 millimeters in width, sometimes referred to as sipes, or may be grooves larger than 2 millimeters in width. The grooves 70 can mimic the shape of the cutting edge of the blades 20, and may be teardrop in shape in some embodiments. The arrangement of the carving head 10 allows one to modify the tread 72 at the middle section 86 without having to also include the cuts making the grooves 70 in the first side section 84, or in the second side section 88. However, it is to be understood that the carving head 10 could also if desired be used to cut grooves 70 into the side sections 84, 88 so that they are located at and extend in from the side edges 74, 76.

[0022] The carving post 52 is shown as employing a rotary/cross-slide table 50 and a lever press 48 to position the carving head 10 and move it in the desired cutting directions.

However, it is to be understood that the carving head 10 may be used in carving posts 52 that do not employ a lever press 48 and/or a rotary/cross-slide table 50 to hold and manipulate the carving head 10. Any type of machine capable of holding and moving the carving head 10 can be employed in other arrangements, and the mounting adapter 54 can be attachable to any type of machine for this purpose.

[0023] An exemplary embodiment of the carving head 10 is shown in Figs. 2-5 that include a frame 14 that is block like in shape with a pair of stanchions that extend from the block in the longitudinal direction 36 and have through apertures. The mounting adapter 54 can be bolted onto the frame 14 or may be welded thereon in some embodiments. The frame 14 defines a hole 44 that extends completely through the frame 14 in the lateral direction 32. The hole 14 may only extend partially through the frame 14 in the lateral direction 32 in other arrangements. A heating element 22 is carried by the frame 14 and is located in the hole 44. The heating element 22 in this embodiment is a heating cartridge 22 that produces heat via electrical resistance. The heating element 22 could be located anywhere on the frame 14, such as on a front outer surface, and does not need to be inside of a hole 44 of the frame 14. Further, although described as employing a heating element 22 that utilizes electrical resistance to generate heat, the heating element 22 could generate heat through hot air, hot fluid, chemical reactions, or any other mechanism. The heating element 22 functions to heat the frame 14 and this heat is eventually transferred into the blades 20 to assist in cutting into the tread 72.

[0024] The carving head 10 also includes a blade mounting assembly 16 that is releasably attachable to the frame 14 so that the blade mounting assembly 16 can be attached to the frame 14, and so that it can then be subsequently removed from the frame 14. The blade mounting assembly 16 holds the blades 20 and thus removal of the blade mounting assembly 16 effects removal of the blades 20 as well from the frame 14. The blade mounting assembly 16 is attached to the frame 14 through the inclusion of an attachment mechanism 18 that likewise engages the frame 14. The attachment mechanism 18 can release the blade mounting assembly 16 as well so that it and the engaged blades 20 can likewise be removed from the frame 14. The attachment mechanism 18 may be attached to the frame 14 when the blade mounting assembly 16 and blades 20 are carried by the frame, and may be attached to the frame 14 when the blade mounting assembly 16 and the blades 20 are removed from the frame 14.

[0025] The blades 20 can be variously configured. As shown in the described embodiment, the blades 20 extend in the vertical direction 34 from the frame 14 and have a pair of cutting surfaces 94 that define a void 60 therebetween. The cutting surfaces 94 of the blades 20 are the sections of the blades 20 that engage the rubber of the cured tire 12 and cut the cured tire 12. The blades 20 are angled with respect to the longitudinal direction 36 so that they extend both in the longitudinal direction 36 and the lateral direction 32. All of the blades 20 are angled in the same orientation, but they could be set up so that some blades 20 are angled in one orientation while other blades 20 are angled in a different orientation. The blades 20 are all located at the same position in the longitudinal direction 36. The blades 20 are heated by heat transferred from the heating element 22, and the cutting surfaces 94 that are edges of the blades 20 farthest from the frame 14 in the vertical direction 34 puncture the tread 72. The cutting surfaces 94 may cut the cured tire 12 as the blades 20 are advanced in the vertical direction 34.

[0026] A number of blade thermal transfer plates 62 are present and are located within the voids 60. The blade thermal transfer plates 62 are only present within the portions of the voids 60 that are at the same locations as the frame 14 in the vertical direction 34, and are not in those portions of the voids 60 that extend from the frame 14 in the vertical direction 34. The blade thermal transfer plates 62 aid in heat transfer from the portions of the blades 20 at the same height as the frame 14 in that they fill up these portions of the voids 60 of the blades 20 to transfer heat by conduction instead of by convection to result in a more rapid heat transfer and hotter heating of the blades 20.

[0027] The blade mounting assembly 16 includes a plurality of blade engagement bases 56. Each one of the blade engagement bases 56 engages one of the blades 20 and does not

engage two of the blades 20. Each of the blade engagement bases 56 is a single piece, although each one could be made from multiple components in other exemplary embodiments. The blade engagement bases 56 rest on and engage the frame 14 and are spaced from and free from engagement with one another in the lateral direction 32. The blade engagement bases 56 partially surround a portion of the vertical height of the blades 20 but do not completely surround these portions. The blades 20 could rest within the blade engagement bases 56. In some embodiments, the blades 20 are permanently attached to the blade engagement bases 56, and in other embodiments the blades 20 can be removed from engagement with the blade engagement bases 56 when the blades 20 and the blade mounting assembly 16 are removed from attachment with the frame 14.

[0028] The blade mounting assembly 16 also includes a plurality of blade mounting blocks 64 that are arranged in the lateral direction 32 so that the blades 20 are disposed between each one of the blade mounting blocks 64. The blade mounting blocks 64 do not engage one another when arranged onto the frame 14. The blade mounting blocks 64 engage the frame 14 and one or two of the blades 20. The blade mounting blocks 64 are not permanently attached to the frame 14 but can be attached to and removed therefrom by the attachment mechanism 18. The blade mounting blocks 64 are not permanently attached to the blades 20, but in some instances they may be permanently connected to the blades 20 so that one of the blade mounting blocks 64 is permanently attached to one of the blades 20. The blade mounting blocks 64 are arranged so that they extend farther than the blades 20 in the longitudinal direction 36 from the mounting surface of the frame 14 onto which the blade mounting assembly 16 is mounted. The blade mounting blocks 64 define a cavity into which the blade engagement bases 56 are located.

[0029] Heat from the heating element 22 is transferred into the frame 14 and is then transferred into the blade mounting blocks 64 and the blade engagement bases 56. The heat is then transferred into the blades 20 and the blade thermal transfer plates 62. The various components of the blade mounting assembly 16 are arranged so that empty space is minimized to facilitate efficient heat transfer into the blades 20. Although some space between these components, such as for instance between the blade mounting blocks 64 and the blade engagement bases 56, is present the amount of spacing may be minimized in certain

embodiments to effect heat transfer. The spacing between the blade mounting blocks 64 and the blade engagement bases 56 is present for mechanical reasons so that the blade 20 is appropriately held and positioned by the carving head 10.

[0030] The attachment mechanism 18 can be variously arranged. As shown, a first set screw 24 extends through a stanchion portion of the frame 14 and can be moved by the user in the lateral direction 32. A second set screw 26 extends through the other stanchion portion of the frame 14 and likewise can be tightened and loosened by the user in the lateral direction 32 to cause movement of the second set screw 26 in the lateral direction 32. The attachment mechanism 18 may be located completely between the first set screw 24 and the second set screw 26 in the lateral direction 32. The first set screw 24 can be tightened so that it engages the blade mounting block 64 at the end of the blade mounting assembly 16, and the second set screw 26 may be advanced so that it engages the oppositely disposed blade mounting block 64 in the lateral direction 32. Advancement of one or both of the set screws 24, 26 causes the components of the blade mount assembly 16, such as the blade mounting blocks 64 and the blade engagement bases 56, and the blades 20 to be compressed in the lateral direction 32. This force in the lateral direction 32 functions to hold the blade mounting assembly 16 together, and the holding force may be strong enough to prevent the blades 20 from being moved out of engagement with the blade mounting assembly 16 in the vertical direction 34. Although not shown, complimentary projections and recesses could be present between the engaged components, for instance the blades 20 and the blade engagement bases 56, to aid in preventing movement of the blades 20 in the vertical direction 34.

[0031] The force from the set screws 24, 26 in the lateral direction 32 pushes the various components against one another to likewise result in less space being present in the blade mounting assembly 16 so that more efficient heat transfer is facilitated. A third set screw 28 is present and is spaced from the first set screw 24 in the vertical direction 34 to provide another location of lateral force to the blade mounting assembly 16 to compliment the first set screw 24. In a similar manner, a fourth set screw 30 acts with the second set screw 26 to apply force in the lateral direction 32 to the blade mounting assembly 16. Any number of set screws may be provided to create the urging force in the lateral direction 32, and all of them may go through the stanchions of the frame 14. The set screws 24, 26, 28, 30 have external threading that is received by internal threading inside of the stanchions of the frame 14 to allow the set screws 24, 26, 28, 30 to move relative to the frame 14 and be attached to the frame 14.

[0032] The attachment mechanism 18 also includes a bar 38 that extends the lateral length of the blade mounting assembly 16 and extends outboard from both of the stanchions of the frame 14. A first and second tightening bolts 40, 42 extend in the longitudinal direction 36 and have external threading that is received by internal threading of the frame 14. The tightening bolts 40, 42 extend through the bar 38 and are located outboard from the stanchions in the lateral direction 32. Movement of the tightening bolts 40, 42 in the longitudinal direction 36 causes the bar 38 to engage the blade mounting blocks 64 and urge them against the surface of the frame 14 onto which the blade mounting assembly 16 is mounted. This force will also function to compress the components of the blade mounting assembly 16 and minimize space to effect better heat transfer. The blade engagement bases 56 will be pushed against the mounting surface of the frame 14, and the blades 20 will also be forced towards the frame 14. The force from the bar 38 will function to hold the blade mounting assembly 16 and the blades 20 against the mounting surface of the frame 14 in the longitudinal direction 36.

[0033] When a different set of blades 20 are desired, for example blades 20 that make deeper cuts, are different in number, have a different shape, have a different size, the carving head 10 can be adjusted to accommodate such changes. The carving head 10 is modular in that the attachment mechanism 18 can be loosened and the blade mounting assembly 16 removed. The set screws 24, 26, 28, 30 can be loosened to remove compressive pressure to the blade mounting blocks 64, blade engagement bases 56, and the blades 20. Likewise, the first and second tightening bolts 40 and 42 can be loosened so that the compressive forces of the bar 38 are removed from the blade mounting blocks 64, blade engagement bases 56, and blades 20. The blades 20 could then be replaced with desired blades 20 and this replacement may include replacing the mounting blocks 64 and blade engagement bases 56 as well, or some or all of these components 64, 56 could be the same as before replacement. The blades 20 are thus removably attached to the frame 14 in that they can be attached to and removed from the frame 14 to achieve grooves 70 that are desired to be cut into the cured tire 12.

[0034] Figs. 6-9 illustrate another exemplary embodiment of the carving head 10 which could be the carving head 10 after the blades 20 and blade mounting assembly 16 are replaced. Also, the carving head 10 in Figs. 6-9 differs in that the mounting adapter 54 is missing. The frame 14 may be connected directly to the lever press 48 or other mechanism of the carving post 52 by the use of two bolts 90, 92 that extend through the lever press 48 or other piece of the carving post 52 and into holes in the frame 14. Alternatively, the bolts 90, 92 may in fact be used to attach the mounting adapter 54 to the lever press 48 or other carving post 52 component so that the frame 14 in turn is secured at the carving post 52. The frame 14 and attachment mechanism 18 may be arranged as previously described and a repeat of this information is not needed. The blade mounting assembly 16 includes a spacer block 66 that is engaged by the first set screw 24 and the third set screw 28, and a spacer block 68 that is engaged by the second set screw 26 and the fourth set screw 30. The spacer blocks 66, 68 do not engage the blades 20. The only components of the blade mounting assembly 16 that the spacer blocks 66, 68 engage are the blade mounting blocks 64. Force from the set screws 24, 26, 28, 30 is transferred through the spacer blocks 66, 68 and into the blade mounting blocks 64 to compress the blocks 64, blades 20, and blade engagement bases 56 in the lateral direction 32.

[0035] The blade mounting blocks 64 are U shaped and are free from engagement with the frame 14 as the blade mounting blocks 54 engage the upper surfaces of the blade engagement bases 56. The blade mounting blocks 64 are identical to one another and are free from engagement with the set screws 24, 26, 28, and 30. The bar 38 is disposed between the blade mounting blocks 64 so that portions of the blade mounting blocks 64 are located both higher and lower than the bar 38 in the vertical direction 34, and so that the blade mounting blocks 64 extend beyond the bar 38 in the longitudinal direction 36. The bar 38 does not engage the spacer blocks 66, 68 so that when the bar 38 moves in the longitudinal direction 36 it engages the blade mounting blocks 64 and urges them in the longitudinal direction 36.

[0036] The blade engagement bases 56 define depressions 58 into which the blades 20 are disposed. The blades 20 are free from engagement with the frame 14, and the blade engagement bases 56 are each single piece components that extend for almost the entire vertical length of the frame 14. The blade engagement bases 56 are between the blade mounting blocks 64 and the frame 14 in the longitudinal direction 36 and engage the mounting surface of the frame 14. The blades 20 extend from the depressions 58 in the longitudinal direction 36 so that they are between adjacent blade mounting blocks 64 in the lateral direction 32. The blades 20 define voids 60, and blade thermal transfer plates 62 are located in the voids 20 in portions of the voids 60 that do not extend past the frame 14 in the vertical direction 34 when the blades 20 are mounted. The blades 20 are oriented so as to extend in the vertical direction 34 from the frame 14 and blade mounting blocks 64, and extend in the longitudinal direction 36 from the blade

engagement bases 56 so that they are arranged parallel to one another. The blades 20 are not angled as in the embodiment previously described but instead extend in the longitudinal direction 36 from the blade engagement bases 56 and the mounting surface of the frame 14 without having a component of extension in the lateral direction 32.

[0037] Heat from the heating element 22 is transferred into the frame 14 and is subsequently transferred into the blade engagement bases 56. The heat may then transfer into the blades 20, and likewise into the blade mounting blocks 64 and blade thermal transfer plates 62 and into the blades 20. Compressive forces of the bar 38 and the set screws 24, 26, 28, 30 eliminate spaces between the interactions of the frame 18, blade mounting blocks 64, blade engagement bases 56, and blades 20 to effect conductive heat transfer. The blades 20 are held onto the frame 14 via the blade mounting assembly 16 and the attachment mechanism 18 and are heated via the heating element 22 to allow the carving head 10 to cut the grooves 70. The embodiment in Figs. 6-9 utilizes 5 blades 20, however any number of blades 20 can be used in other embodiments. For example, 2, 3, 4, 6, from 7-10, or up to 20 blades 20 can be

incorporated into the carving head 10 in other exemplary embodiments. The lengths in the longitudinal direction 36 and lateral direction 32 of the blades 20 can be varied to achieve desired depths and widths of grooves 70. Further, the shape of the blades 20 and their spacing from one another in the lateral direction 32 can be varied to achieve any desired groove 70 shape, and grooves 70 that are the same distance from one another and that are different distances from one another as desired.

[0038] The carving head 10 is used in a process after the curing of the tire 12 in order to create grooves 70. The cutting process employs motion of the carving head 10 in the radial direction of the tire 12, which corresponds to the vertical direction 34 in Fig. 1, so that the grooves 70. The carving head 10 may be moved in some embodiments in the longitudinal direction 36 once the radial/vertical motion is complete in order to remove the blades 20 from the grooves 70 and possibly eject cut rubber from the grooves 70. In other embodiments, the motion is purely in the vertical direction 34, up and down, with no motion in the longitudinal direction 36 incorporated into the cutting process or into the blade 20 or rubber removal process once the rubber is cut.

[0039] While the present invention has been described in connection with certain preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the subject matter encompassed by way of the present invention is not to be limited to those specific embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended for the subject matter of the invention to include all alternatives, modifications and equivalents as can be included within the spirit and scope of the following claims.