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Engineering Materials
Aluminum Composite to Lower Weight in Brake Rotor
2/15/2012

An aluminum composite brake rotor that weighs 60 percent less than cast iron and lasts three times as long is expected to cut about 30 pounds from midsize sedans. 
(Source: NYU-Poly)
An aluminum composite brake rotor that weighs 60 percent less than cast iron and lasts three times as long is expected to cut about 30 pounds from midsize sedans.
(Source: NYU-Poly)

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Marvin McConoughey
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automobile weight reduction
Marvin McConoughey   2/5/2013 11:45:30 AM
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Reducing car weight is more difficult than it looks.  Lighter materials of the same strength are usually more costly.  Brake disks are an example where several lighter materials exist, but each currently comes with negatives.  Cost for some, limited max temperatures for others.  Downsizing is possible and is currently being done, but many buyers stubbornly insist on being able to carry a family in comfort.  The best approach seems to be a holistic approach, which is well underway.  This, too, is costly, requiring a coordinated design, development, and manufacturing effort with technical support from suppliers.  Those efforts are some of the reasons that car weight is not dramatically falling.  But progress, though slow, is continuing and new cars now weigh considerably less than some of their forebearers.

info@litebrake.com
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Re: Aluminum is not so hot
info@litebrake.com   12/28/2012 11:02:13 PM
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LiteBrake Tech has developed the steel clad aluminum brake technology to deal with the "hot" problem. You may visit litebrake.com for more inf.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Aluminum is not so hot
Ann R. Thryft   2/28/2012 1:09:49 PM
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grand, I'm aware of the fact that this stuff doesn't run as hot as steel, but wanted to make sure you knew it was a composite. The main benefit the research is aimed at here is reducing weight, not size. I'm not surprised to hear that aluminum can be a problem in race cars. The vehicles this material targets are consumer cars and military transport vehicles.


grand
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Re: Aluminum is not so hot
grand   2/27/2012 3:59:08 PM
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Ann, I understand that this is Aluminum Composite but that doesn't change the aluminum part very much. This company's own website http://www.relinc.net/Attachments/MotorcycleBrake.pdf states that the brakes can NOT run as hot as a steel rotor.

Materials Primer - Melting Points:

2024 Aluminum - 502C

4130 Steel - 1432C

6Al4V Titanium - 1604C

Obviously we don't run these things right up to the melting point, but this gives us a clear view of how much heat we can dissipate from a material. If I can run a material 3 times hotter, I can make it 3 times smaller.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Aluminum is not so hot
Ann R. Thryft   2/27/2012 1:23:16 PM
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grand, thanks for your comments. This is not aluminum but an aluminum composite. That fact, plus the fact that the composite includes ceramic, makes me wonder whether one of the reasons for the ceramic is to lower heat, especially since the company developing the material has experience making similar composites for NASA for extreme temperature apps, as they describe here

http://www.relinc.net/AdvancedMaterials/MMC/lightweight_matrix_brakes.php?page=1

and here

http://www.relinc.net/AdvancedMaterials/Ceramics/NASATiles.php?page=1


grand
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Aluminum is not so hot
grand   2/27/2012 10:35:53 AM
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I've used aluminum rotors on a race car. I won't ever do it again. The coefficient of thermal expansion is much greater than steel. This means that the rotor heats up and grows, diminishing the clearance between the rotor and caliper until the rotor actually grinds against the caliper (I know, I know... you can always design it with more clearance to compensate. But it is not a drop in replacement at that point). Secondly, Aluminum gets really weak as it gets hot and will fall apart under high mechanical and thermal load. This is exactly what happened to me (lots of little melted aluminum chunks all over the track and my car). Steel, titanium and Carbon can glow red hot and still function as a brake rotor, Aluminum can not.

Carbon is interesting, ridiculously light. Coefficient of friction increases with temperature (this also means that cold brakes are slippery). The processing time is very long (days) see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrhVHA-3ZBU. Another article http://www.f1technical.net/articles/2.

 

 

John
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Re: Heat Vs. Stoppability
John   2/17/2012 8:48:54 AM
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I knew a brake job was due a while back and did a little searching as to what race cars use.  I knew they would completely fry a steel rotor and formula 1 would melt it.  Unfortunatly these seem to be custom built.  The only thing I think might be keeping them out of non racing cars is that they don't stop that all that well when braking from low speeds.

Jerry dycus
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Re: Heat Vs. Stoppability
Jerry dycus   2/16/2012 9:21:44 PM
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Re: Heat Vs. Stoppability
Charles Murray  
2/16/2012 8:38:22 PM
If the automakers aren't taking a hard look at this, I'd be shocked. Cutting 30 lbs from the weight of a mid-size sedan is a gigantic change. Engineers typically fight to cut a pound or two from their vehicles. If they can cut 10 lbs, they're heroic. Thirty is off the scales.


-----------  Sadly this same way of thinking is why they went bankrupt.

------------  We have cost effective composite tech that can drop most car, SUV's weight by 50% and double their mileage.  And they know it as they all have built them as showcars like the GM UltraLite.   And yet they drool over a few pound savings.  Not much critical thinking there.

 

Jerry dycus
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Re: UNSPRUNG Weight Reduction!
Jerry dycus   2/16/2012 9:12:09 PM
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                  Does anyone know why Carbon brakes are not getting cheaper?  After all carbon isn't that expensive a feedstock.  How are they made?

                 They would be much lighter than even this advance with the lower weight advantages in handling and mileage.

                Some brakes come with retracting clip springs that pull the pads off the rotor.  In every EV I do I always check the brakes and many other drags like diff fluids, new low rolling resitance tires, aero mods, etc which can literally increase range 10-50%!!   Or cut the battery pack/cost/weight as much for the same range.

               Of course the best brake is one that doesn't have to stop all that excess weight most cars have by designing in lightness, KIS.

 

Charles Murray
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Re: Heat Vs. Stoppability
Charles Murray   2/16/2012 8:38:22 PM
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If the automakers aren't taking a hard look at this, I'd be shocked. Cutting 30 lbs from the weight of a mid-size sedan is a gigantic change. Engineers typically fight to cut a pound or two from their vehicles. If they can cut 10 lbs, they're heroic. Thirty is off the scales.

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