Meet the Engineer: Mike Kelly

Meet the Engineer: Mike Kelly

Mike Kelly is a project engineer focusing on dynamic mechanical analysis testing in the Smithers physical testing lab in Akron, Ohio. 

How long have you been with Smithers?

I joined the team back in 2015. I spent four years working in our product testing lab before transitioning to my current role as a project engineer in our physical testing lab last year. 

What keeps you busy every day?

I’m responsible for all of dynamic mechanical analysis in our physical testing lab here in Akron. I do a lot of work with tire treads especially, assessing viscoelastic properties and glass transition temperatures.  

How does your work support our clients?

It depends on what the client is looking for. If they need a third-party testing lab to help with a industry or OEM specification that includes DMA, we can do that. If they’re in the product development phase and they want to test out a new material or compound, we can help design a custom testing program to meet their needs.
When it comes to tire clients, I provide the DMA testing data they need to better analyze the composition of their tread and how it will perform. DMA data helps our clients predict rolling resistance, wet traction, dry traction, snow traction, and other key tire performance metrics. This information helps them engineer their tire designs to meet or exceed the demanding requirements of OEM vehicle specifications. 
In any case, our clients can always count on us for accurate, unbiased data, delivered on time, with outstanding customer service. This is a universal Smithers promise. 

Who are your clients?

Most of our DMA clients are tire companies of all kinds. I’ve worked with passenger car tires, light truck tires, performance tires, OTR tires, you name it. Smithers has nearly 100 years of experience in the tire industry, so it’s really rewarding to play a role in that legacy.
We’ve also supported foam, medical tubing, and various rubber product manufacturers with DMA testing. Each product or application presents different material performance criteria, which makes each evaluation somewhat unique. 

Are you working on any special projects right now?

I’m working toward a Master’s of Science in mechanical engineering at the University of Akron, with a focus on DMA. My project is focused on rubber friction predictions at low sliding velocities. This technique utilizes the master curves for rubber constructed using the WLF equation and time-temperature superposition.
The Williams-Landel-Ferry Equation, which is usually just called the WLF Equation, can be used to construct master curves for the viscoelastic properties of a rubber. Briefly, you run a fixed number of identical DMA tests, but at different temperature points. Data from all the test runs are then combined and realigned using the WLF Equation to create one continuous curve across a very large frequency range.
With this master curve information, the rubber friction coefficient will be calculated at varying velocities and surface asperities.
The novelty of my project is found in the comparison between traditional DMA testing techniques and a high-frequency DMA testing machine. The goal of the project will be to determine what differences, if any, occur in the predicted friction coefficients of the two different master curve inputs. In other words, the project may determine that one technique offers more accurate results than the other.

Best part of the job?

I really enjoy learning new things and developing new test methods to serve our clients. I also like my team members. A lot of great people work at Smithers. 

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I like outdoor activities, especially running, hiking, and golf. I also play a lot of board games and am learning the mandolin. And of course I love to spend time with my girlfriend, friends, and family.

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