When a clutch engages with an engine, a pressure plate pushes a clutch disc onto the flywheel. This allows for the power of an engine to transfer to the rest of the machine.
This vital clutch disc makes sure that this engagement and disengagement of the flywheel happens smoothly every time. Early clutches were made with weak clutch discs that would wear out after just a minimal amount of usage. But today we have clutch material that can withstand high friction, high heat, and the force of the pressure plate.
In this article, we’ll run you through the best materials modern clutches are made with.
Organic clutch discs are made with a combination of friction materials. Most commonly, they’re made with phenolic resins, metallic powders, and compounded rubber. This type of material comes in two forms: woven and molded.
In woven organic clutch discs, fiberglass is woven into the discs, increasing their durability and longevity. This makes them superior to their molded counterparts even though molded discs are much more affordable.
Heavy-duty organic clutch materials are the same except they’re with a more significant percentage of metallic components. This means they’re more heat resistant. They can withstand temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, when it comes to engagement smoothness, these clutch discs are identical to organic clutch discs.
Ceramic clutch plates are, ironically, made with a combination of copper, iron, bronze, and silicon and graphite. Because of their metallic content, these discs can withstand a lot of friction and heat. This makes them ideal for race cars and other high-speed vehicles that need to engage and disengage from fast-moving flywheels.
However, these discs are high-friction. This means that the engagement and disengagement of the clutch won’t always be very smooth.
Kevlar clutch discs have two key benefits: they’re incredibly durable, and they always engage the flywheel smoothly. They last 2-3 times longer than clutch discs made of organic materials.
These are the ideal choice for machines that require smooth, precise movement. Their only downside is that they have a long break-in period before they feel right.
Feramic is essentially a heavy-duty version of ceramic clutch discs. Made of similar materials – steel, silicon, graphite, etc. – feramic has an extremely high amount of friction, so they’re best used for machines that require quick lock-up like racing or heavy-duty trucking.
A subgroup of feramic clutch discs, carbotic clutch discs, are very commonly used in trucking because they have smoother engagement while retaining strong heat resistance.
Now That You Know About Different Clutch Materials…
You can make an informed decision the next time you buy a clutch for your car, truck, or any other type of machine that requires one. Just remember that there’s really no right answer when it comes to determining which clutch material is the best. It all depends on your financial situation and what type of machinery you need it for.
Be sure to check out our offerings of industrial brakes and clutches to see if anything suits your needs.