This year there were 39 abstract submissions, of which 27 were selected for presentation. The society will publish roughly 16 of these (depending on peer review results) in the journal.
"After presentation, each paper goes through a peer review process that is managed by an editorial board made up of 12 of the most experienced tire scientists in the world. The goal is to make sure we capture the best of the best work each year and put it into a form that is easily located and recalled," Mars said.
First journal editor Daniel Livingston, following the initial publication in 1973, stated that the Rubber Division of the American Chemical Society expressed concern that papers would be diverted from their own journal, Rubber Chemistry and Technology.
"But we maintained that the result would be that more papers would be written—which is what eventually happened as (Tire Science and Technology) became recognized," Livingston said.
For a six-year period between 2003 and 2009, Mars and Tire Society Editor Farhad Tabaddor created a web-based archive of journal articles and the transition to a digital system, a catalog that is now managed by Tire Society Editor Michael Kaliske of Technische Universitat in Dresden, Germany.
"In the late 1990s and early 2000s, many scientific journals transitioned to online distribution," Mars said. "To keep the society's journal relevant and competitive, it was necessary to respond to this trend."
One of the biggest challenges during this transition was how to address institutional subscriptions. There only were individual subscriptions with print.
"Because the digital format is so easily shareable, it was important to implement a licensing model that would allow organizations to share digital journal content with all of their engineers," Mars said. "And we had to balance that against the imperative to maintain adequate funding to produce the journal."
The solution came in 2008, when the society introduced an institutional price point that is higher than an individual subscription—but it confers the right to share the articles within the organization.
Scientific publishing has continued to evolve over the years, and just last year the society had to respond to the trend toward "open access" publishing.
"We've actually implemented a hybrid model where, after peer review, authors are offered a choice between the traditional subscriber-funded model (no cost to the author, but distribution limited to subscribers) and the new open access model (author pays publication fee, and distribution is unlimited)," Mars said.
Regardless of the publisher, whether in print or online, the content of the journal has gone as the industry technology has dictated, from tire testing methods to tire material behavior to tire physics to vehicle dynamics.
"One of the key recurring themes through the years has been computer simulation," Mars said. "Since I started attending, I've seen finite element analysis in particular grow from a niche topic used by a few researchers into a full-blown, commercially supported, routine activity practiced by many engineers and applied on every new product."
Pelle said "what clicked for him" was the notion that tires are designed using knowledge from each company—but the physics is out there to be discovered.
"I learned a lot going to conferences, seeing what they were doing, really interacting and asking questions," he said. "As an industry we moved forward with simulations, and finite element analysis is an important part of this. It is a niche that was filled by filled by Cecil Brenner and others—and I think the Tire Society has continued to fill that niche quite well over the years."
Ownership of intellectual property has been an issue as well, a challenge that in some cases has caused a decrease in membership, Potts said.
"When government was not so instrumental, membership dwindled," Potts said. "It was left to the OEMs like Ford and GM to attract tire companies—and even they dropped out. Why do I want to parade my compounding secrets in front of the world?
"But with the Tire Society, I get more ideas than I give up. We need to get OEMs back to build membership."
Mars noted that with the conference and the journal as the chief expenditures, and dues as the chief revenue (along with offsetting revenue from the conference), the Tire Society's mission can be tough to sustain.
Perhaps if the pandemic abates, the society can meet in person in 2022 for the first time in three years, bringing some of the top minds in the tire design and manufacturing industry together once again.
"We are a global society, trying to reach out to rest of the world," Pelle said. "On a personal level, it's a bit like a reunion. We missed that with the pandemic. But the network access is something that is very beneficial.
"We are looking forward to that again next year, coming back to Akron in a big way."