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How It Works: Friction Material

When you’re in your car and hit the brakes, you probably don’t think about how they work… Unless they don’t.

Finding out how frictional material works can help in more than just your car, though. It can also assist in an industrial setting where friction material is used.

Keep reading to find out what you need to know about brake friction material.

What are Friction Materials Used For?

Friction materials are used between two or more parts when there is a need to slow them down. By providing friction or resistance between moving parts, this causes them to slow down and then stop more quickly than without any friction applied.

The industries in which friction materials are used include cars and other vehicles, household appliances, defense, and heavy manufacturing. The creation of friction materials itself is a massive industry.

Common Types of Friction Material

Before its banning, many brakes were made from asbestos. After that, other materials were created to take its place.

Here are some of the most common types of friction materials today:

Non-asbestos Organic Materials

These were created specifically to replace asbestos in car brake pads. They’re made from a combination of various plant fibers including those from coconut shells which are pressed together and held with glue.

Most of these will also have up to 20% metal in them. This metal, most commonly brass, is used to dissipate the heat that occurs during braking. It also makes the material more abrasive.

Ceramic Materials

This friction is gaining in popularity within the auto industry, with many new vehicles featuring ceramic brakes. Ceramic brakes are actually a combination of copper and fibrous ceramic material.

It’s the fibrous ceramic material that provides the rough texture for friction while the copper helps with heat dissipation. The metal also aids in reducing vibration which can lead to noisy braking.

Semi-metallic Materials

Semi-metallic friction materials are similar in composition to non-asbestos organic materials, but they have a much higher metal content. These were most popular in the 80’s but have since been replaced by ceramic brakes.

These brakes were over 50% metal particles which made for excellent heat dissipation and allowed the brake pads to last longer. However, because of the damage it did to the brake rotor, these were mostly phased out by the end of the decade.

Which Friction Material is Best?

There’s no straight answer for this question because of how many factors need to be considered.

For the most part, ceramic friction material is preferred for cars and other vehicles. However, an industrial setting has different needs and may then want a semi-metallic friction material for how quickly it can stop a moving part.

Want to Learn More?

Now you know how frictional material works to slow and stop moving parts. You also learned about some of the most common materials used in brakes.

To continue learning more about industrial parts and how we can help you improve and increase your business, be sure to check out our blog.

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