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Ceramic Disc Brakes

Published on Apr 02, 2024


Until now brake discs have been made up of grey cast iron, but these are heavy which reduces acceleration, uses more fuel and has a high gyroscopic effect.

Ceramic disc brake weigh less than carbon/carbon discs but have the same frictional values with more initial bite and cost a fraction of price. Carbon /carbon discs are used only in Formula 1 racing cars etc, because it is so expensive. More over ceramic brake discs are good even in wet conditions which carbon / carbon disc notoriously fails to do.

But comparing their weight, you will see right away that we are looking at two different worlds, with ceramic brake discs more than 61 per cent lighter than conventional cast iron discs. In practice this reduces the weight of the car, depending on the size of the brake discs, by up to 20 kg. And apart from saving fuel, resulting in better and lower emission for the same mileage, this also means a reduction in unsprung masses with a further improvement of shock absorber response and behavior. Another is the manufacturer can add more safety features without adding to current weight.

The ceramic material is created when the matrix carbon combines with liquid silicon. This fiber reinforced ceramic material cools over night and the gleaming dark grey break disk is ready. Resin is a binder, which holds the different constituents together.

Resins are of two types :

1.Thermosetting resins

2. Thermoplastic resins.

Thermoplastic resins are those, which can be softened on heating harden on cooling. Repeated heating and cooling does not affect their chemical nature of materials. These are formed by addition polymerization and have long chain molecular structure.

Thermosetting resins are those resins which, during molding process (by heating) get hardened and once they have solidified, they cannot be softened i.e. they are permanent setting resins. Such resins during moldings, acquire three dimensional cross linked structure with predominantly strong covalent bonds. They are formed by condensation polymerization and are stronger and harder than thermoplastic resins. They are hard, rigid, water resistant and scratch resistant.

Coating Of Ceramics On Conventional Brake Disc:

Earlier brake disc have been made of grey cast iron, but these are heavy which reduces acceleration, uses more fuel, etc. The new technology developed by Freno Ltd uses metal matrix composite for the disk, basically an alloy of aluminum for lightness and silicon carbide for strength. However it was found that, the ceramic additive made the disk highly abrasive and gave a low and unstable coefficient of friction. So it was realized that the surface had to be engineered in some way to overcome this problem. After experiments, Sulzer Metco Ltd found an answer in the form of a special ceramic coating. They developed thermal spray technology as well as manufacturing plasma surface engineering machinery used for the task and coating materials.

In use, the ceramic face requires a special carbon metallic friction pad, which deposits a layer of material on the brake disc. This coupling provides the required conditions of exceptional wear resistance, high and stable coefficient of friction.

The coated matrix composite discs were first used on high performance motor cycles, where the reduced gyroscopic effect had the additional advantage of making the cycles easier to turn.

Another company named Lanxide used aluminium as the disc material. To provide necessary abrasion resistance, aluminium discs have to be reinforced with a ceramic material, hence metal composite. They used silicon carbide also to increase the strength.

Porsche Ceramic Disc Brakes (PCCB):

After a long period of research and tests Porsche has developed new high performance disc brakes, P C C B (Porsche Ceramic Composite Brakes). Porsche has succeeded as the first car manufacturer in the world to develop ceramic brake discs with involute cooling ducts for an efficient cooling. The new brake system offers a substantial improvement in the car braking technology and sets entirely new standards in terms of decisive criteria such as braking response, fading stability, and weight and service life.

Ceramic Disc Brakes


Porsche's new brake system also offers obvious advantages in emergencies at low speeds: In such a case emergency application of the brakes with PCCB technology does not require substantial pedal forces or any technical assistance serving to build up maximum brake forces within fractions of a second. Instead, the Porsche Ceramic Composite Brake ensures maximum deceleration from the start without requiring any particular pressure on the brake pedal. And the new brake system is just as superior in its response under wet conditions, since the new brake linings cannot absorb water in the same way as conventional linings. The final point, of course, is that the cross-drilled brake discs help to optimize the response of the brakes also in wet weather.

The process involves heating carbon powder, resin and carbon fibers in a furnace to about 1700 degree Celsius and is a high vaccum process.

1. Ceramic brake discs are 50% lighter than metal brake discs. As a result, they can reduce the weight of car by up to 20kg. In case of a high speed ICE like train with 36 brake discs, these savings amount to 6 tons. And apart from saving fuel, this also means a reduction in unsprung masses with a further improvement of shock absorber response and behavior.

2. The ceramic brake disc ensures very high and, in particular, consistent frictional values throughout the entire deceleration process. With Porsche ceramic brake discs, a car was able to decelerate from 100Km to 0Km in less than 3 seconds. In the case of Daewoo’s Nexia, it takes about 4 seconds to stop the vehicle.

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