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JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370

Development of aluminum metal matrix composites (Al-MMC)


brake rotor and pad
Hiroaki Nakanishi
a
, Kenji Kakihara
a
, Akinori Nakayama
a
, Tomiyuki Murayama
b
a
Foundation Brake Engineering Department, ADVICS CO. LTD., 918-11, Mitukuri Aza Sakashita, Fujioka-cho, Nishikamo-gun,
Aichi 470-0424, Japan
b
Light Metals R&D Department, AISIM TAKAOKA CO. LTD., 1 Tennoh, Takaokasin-machi, Toyota, Aichi 473-8501, Japan
Received 18 January 2002; received in revised form 8 March 2002
Abstract
Improvement in fuel consumption rate requires a reduction in vehicle weight. Research and development for materials
substitution in the brake rotor, from the conventional cast iron to aluminum, has been undertaken. In this study, we developed
aluminum metal matrix composites brake rotor and pads, which have equivalent braking effects and wear resistance to those of the
conventional cast iron rotor, by optimization of the quantities and the particle diameter ratio of hard particles used for the rotor and
the pad. r 2002 Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. and Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
It is highly desired to improve the fuel consumption
rate by a reduction in total weight of the vehicle. The
brake rotor accounts for a large part of the total chassis
weight. In recent years, research and development has
been carried out to substitute the conventional cast iron
brake rotor with an aluminum brake rotor. For the
development of aluminum brake rotors, however, there
are diverse technical problems to be solved, in addition
to the manufacturing cost. In this study, we developed a
new combination of an aluminum brake rotor with a
brake pad and examined its application, in order to
solve the problems. Optimization of the quantity and
the particle diameter ratio of hard particles used for the
brake rotor and the brake pad resulted in developing an
improved brake rotor of higher heat resistance than
those of the previous aluminum metal matrix compo-
sites (AL-MMC) rotors. The optimization also gave a
brake pad having equivalent friction properties, includ-
ing the braking effects and wear resistance, to those of
the conventional cast iron rotors.
2. Problems
It has been thought that aluminum material is not
suitable for parts used under extremely severe frictional
conditions, such as a brake. The frictional heat of the
brake naturally raises the temperature, and the alumi-
num material does not ensure sufcient thermal
resistance. Application of hard particles like ceramic
particles for the reinforcement of the aluminum brake
rotor has been examined to enhance the thermal
resistance, although the results are not yet satisfactory
[1,2].
Fig. 1 shows microscopic pictures of the structures
of the Al-MMC brake rotor and the conventional cast
iron (FC) brake rotor. While the FC brake rotor is
composed of a material containing graphite, the Al-
MMC brake rotor is composed of a composite material
in which ceramic particles are dispersed in aluminum
alloy.
It is known that the combination of the Al-MMC
brake rotor with a conventional brake pad for the FC
brake rotor results in poor braking effects and
insufcient wear properties and is thus not suitable for
practical use.
Fig. 1. Micro structure of FC rotor and Al-MMC rotor.
0389-4304/02/$22.00 r 2002 Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan, Inc. and Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S 0 3 8 9 - 4 3 0 4 ( 0 2 ) 0 0 2 0 3 - 5 JSAE20024258
2.1. Heat resistance of rotor
The heat resistance of the Al-MMC brake rotor was
evaluated by measuring the temperature at which
scoring was observed. Here scoring represents the
scratch-out phenomenon on the frictional surface due
to an increase in temperature of the brake rotor. The
scoring may be ascribed to the facts that the aluminum
material has a signicant decrease in strength with a
temperature increase and that the aluminum base
material on the frictional surface is softened. The
occurrence of scoring causes abnormal wear of both
the brake pad and the brake rotor and abruptly lowers
the friction coefcient m: The brake pad used for the test
was the pad with less accumulation of lm on its
frictional surface among the pads previously tested
against the FC brake rotor [3]. The test rubbed the brake
pad against the rotor 200 times in conformity with
JASO C406-82, and iteratively performed snap braking
at a deceleration of 4.4 m/s
2
to attain the speed
reduction from the initial vehicle speed of 100 km/h to
the speed of 95 km/h. The temperature of the rotor was
raised under such conditions, and the temperature at
which the friction coefcient m abruptly decreased was
measured. The graph of Fig. 2 shows the results of the
test. As seen from the plot of Fig. 2, the limit
temperature of the previous Al-MMC rotor was 4101C.
In order to attain sufcient heat capacity of the brake
rotor affected by this limit temperature, a relatively large
weight is required for the brake rotor mounted on the
vehicle. This removes the merit of weight reduction. A
further increase in limit temperature is accordingly
demanded.
2.2. Friction properties
The test repeated the braking operations with regard
to the Al-MMC brake rotor, in combination with the
brake pad used for the test discussed in Section 2.1, at a
deceleration of 3.4 m/s
2
, a before-braking rotor tem-
perature of 1201C and an initial vehicle speed of 65 km/
h, and measured the friction coefcient m: The wear of
the brake pad and the brake rotor was measured with
a micrometer. The results of the test are shown in
Figs. 3 and 4, together with the results for the
conventional FC brake rotor. The results of Figs. 3
and 4 show that the repeated braking of the Al-MMC
brake rotor lowered the friction coefcient m and caused
signicant wear of the brake pad. The brake rotor
thickness also increased with substance transferred from
the brake pads. The friction properties of the Al-MMC
brake rotor are thus remarkably poorer than those of
the conventional FC brake rotor. Further improvement
is required with regard to the variation in friction
coefcient and the wear of the brake pad due to the
repeated braking.
2.3. Estimation of friction mechanism
The friction-related phenomena were estimated from
the results of the test performed in Section 2.2. Fig. 5
Fig. 2. Scoring test result in conventional Al-MMC rotor.
Fig. 3. Variation in m with braking times.
Fig. 4. Wear of the rotor and the pad.
Fig. 5. Cross section of the frictional surface of FC rotor and Al-
MMC rotor.
H. Nakanishi et al. / JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370 366
shows photographs of the sectional frictional surfaces of
the respective rotors after the test. As shown in Fig. 5, a
substance transferred from the brake pad is accumulated
on the surface of the Al-MMC rotor to form a thick
lm. This is because hard particles included in the brake
rotor protrude from the surface of the rotor and the
substance transferred from the brake pad is accumulated
between the protrusions. Thus it is thought that the hard
particles function as a whetstone.
The estimated friction mechanism models with regard
to the Al-MMC brake rotor and the conventional FC
brake rotor are shown in Fig. 6. These process models
are explainable with a difference in hardness between the
base materials of the respective brake rotors and the
hard particles included in them (see Table 1). In the case
of the FC brake rotor, the initial rough surface is
scratched out by the hard particles in the brake pad
having the higher hardness than that of the cast iron
base material. The mixture of the wear powder of the
brake pad and the scratched-out material of the brake
rotor lls the recesses on the surface of the brake rotor
to form a lm. The lm accumulates over the whole
frictional surface. The hard particles included in the
brake pad then scratch off both the accumulated lms
and the base material of the brake rotor. As the
accumulation and scratch-off of the lm are repeated
in this manner, the thickness of the lm is kept
substantially constant through the repeated braking
operations. The brake pad is accordingly worn in a
substantially constant manner, which leads to a
relatively stable friction coefcient m:
In the case of the Al-MMC brake rotor, on the other
hand, the hard particles on the surface of the rotor have
the higher hardness and the greater particle diameter
than those of the hard particles included in the brake
pad, so that the brake rotor scratches out and wears the
brake pad. The wear powder lls the recesses on the
surface of the brake rotor to form a lm.
The braking operation makes the hard particles
protrude from the surface of the brake rotor and further
wears the brake pad to thicken the lm. Unlike the FC
brake rotor, the hard particles on the surface of the
Al-MMC brake rotor prevent the brake pad from
scratching off the lm covering over the whole frictional
surface of the brake rotor. This leads to wear of the
brake pad. In the case of the Al-MMC brake rotor,
there is accordingly no cycle of accumulation and
scratch-off of the lm. Thus the repeated braking
operations thicken the accumulated lm. This acceler-
ates wear of the brake pad and lowers the friction
coefcient m:
Based on the above discussion, it is very important to
select adequate hard particles included in the aluminum
brake rotor and the brake pad.
3. Development of new Al-MMC brake rotor and brake
pad
We increased the content of the hard particles in the
brake rotor for the purpose of improving the heat
resistance and optimized the particle diameter ratio of
the hard particles in the brake rotor to suit those in the
brake pad for the purpose of improving the friction
properties.
3.1. Improvement in heat resistance of rotor
As is well known, the heat resistance of the Al-MMC
brake rotor is enhanced by increasing the quantity of
hard particles included in the brake rotor [1,2]. The high
Fig. 6. Friction process model with regard to Al-MMC and FC brake
rotor.
Table 1
Properties of hard particles in the rotor and the pad, and properties of
the rotor base material
Mohs
hardness
number
Particle
diameter
(mm)
Hard particles in the Al-MMC rotor 9.5 20
Base material of the Al-MMC rotor o3
Hard particles in the pad 47.5 120
Base material of the FC rotor 4
H. Nakanishi et al. / JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370 367
temperature lowers the strength of the aluminum base
material and leads to easy scratch-out and destruction of
the outer-most frictional surface. The high content of
the hard particles, however, increases the ratio of the
hard particles relative to the whole frictional surface and
effectively prevents scratch-off. In the conventional
particle distributed-type cast material, the optimum
content of the particles for good productivity is
Vf=20%. In this study, we adopted the preform
technique and increased the content of the hard particles
for enhanced heat resistance. We found that the
optimum content of the particles is Vf=30% for good
productivity.
Evaluation of the heat resistance was performed
under the same test conditions as those discussed
in Section 2.1. The results of the test are shown in
Fig. 7.
As seen in the graph of Fig. 7, the limit temperature of
the preform-based brake rotor reached 4901C, while the
limit temperature of the conventional particle distrib-
uted-type cast iron brake rotor was 4101C. This
proves that the higher content of the hard particles
effectively enhances the heat resistance. We adopted
the preform technique to arrange a higher content of
hard particles in the rotor than the limit in the
conventional particle distributed-type cast technique,
thereby favorably improving the heat resistance. Fig. 8
shows the manufacturing process of the new Al-MMC
brake rotor developed in this study. Casting was
performed under high pressure to shorten the forming
time. The preform was used only for the sliding
parts. This decreased the number of parts having
difculties in processing, and thereby reduced the
manufacturing cost.
3.2. Improvement in wear properties
The conventional brake pad for the FC brake rotor
was used as a base and was modied by mixing a
material adequately selected corresponding to the hard
particles included in the Al-MMC brake rotor. It is
necessary to determine the particle diameter of the
hard particles included in the brake pad by taking
into account the size and the quantity of the hard
particles included in the Al-MMC brake rotor. The
same test as that of Section 2.2 was performed
with regard to the brake rotor developed in Section
3.1 for evaluation of the wear of the brake pad and
the brake rotor. The results of the test are shown in
Fig. 9.
As seen in the graphs of Fig. 9, the desirable particle
diameter ratio of the hard particles ranges from 2 to 20
(rotor/pad) in order to ensure sufcient wear properties
of both the brake rotor and the brake pad. Fig. 10 shows
the variation in friction coefcient m against the
frequency of braking at the particle diameter ratio of
10. The results of Fig. 10 show that the repeated braking
operations did not lower the friction coefcient m; which
was kept substantially constant in the range of 0.390.4
and was thus suitable for practical use.
Fig. 11 is a photograph showing the section of the
brake rotor after the test. The hard particles on the outer
most frictional surface of the brake rotor were worn
down to a rounded shape, the lm covered over
substantially the whole frictional surface, and had a
thickness equivalent to that of the lm formed on the
cast iron brake rotor (see Fig. 5). Fig. 7. Scoring test result in developed Al-MMC rotor.
Fig. 8. Developed rotor manufacturing process.
Fig. 9. Effects of the particle diameter ratio of hard particles on wear
of the Al-MMc rotor and the pad.
H. Nakanishi et al. / JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370 368
4. Evaluation of new Al-MMC brake rotor and brake pad
The brake rotor developed in this study was subjected
to tests with a brake dynamo for evaluation of the
braking properties.
4.1. Evaluation of heat resistance of brake rotor
The heat resistance of the brake rotor was evaluated
by the same test as discussed in Section 2.1. The results
of the test are shown in Fig. 12. The graph of Fig. 12
shows that the brake rotor had a limit temperature of
5001C while keeping the high friction coefcient m:
4.2. Evaluation of braking effects
The level and stability of the braking effects were
evaluated by a test in conformity with JASO C406-82.
Fig. 13 shows observed variations in secondary braking
effects at different initial vehicle speeds. The results of
the test for the combination of the conventional FC
brake rotor with the conventional brake pad discussed
in Section 2 are also shown for the purpose of
comparison. The level of the braking effects of the
developed Al-MMC brake rotor was approximately
10% higher than that of the conventional FC brake
rotor at an initial vehicle speed of 50 km/h, while being
substantially equivalent to that of the conventional FC
brake rotor at an initial vehicle speed of 100 km/h. The
friction coefcient m of the developed Al-MMC brake
rotor was substantially equivalent to or less than that
of the conventional FC brake rotor against the
deceleration, the vehicle speed, the temperature and
the heat history. Thus the Al-MMC brake rotor
developed in this study fullled the requirements for
practical use.
4.3. Evaluation of wear of brake pad
The test repeated the braking operations 1000 times at
different temperatures of under the initial vehicle speed
of 50 km/h and the deceleration of 1.5 m/s
2
and
measured the variation in thickness of the brake pad,
so as to evaluate the wear resistance of the brake pad.
The results of the test are shown in Fig. 14. The results
of the test with regard to the combination of the
conventional FC brake rotor with the brake pad
discussed in Section 2 are also shown for the purpose
of comparison. As shown in Fig. 14, the wear of the
brake pad developed in this study against the Al-MMC
rotor was substantially equivalent to that of the
conventional brake pad against the conventional FC
brake rotor. Thus the brake pad developed in this study
fullled the requirements for practical use.
4.4. Evaluation of brake squeal
Reduced brake squeal is one of the essential factors
required for the brake parts. The test repeated the
braking operations approximately 2000 times under an
initial vehicle speed of 1030 km/h, a brake uid
Fig. 11. Cross section of the frictional surface of developed Al-MMC
rotor.
Fig. 12. Scoring test result in developed Al-MMC rotor and pad.
Fig. 10. Variation in m with in braking times of developed Al-MMC
rotor and pad.
Fig. 13. JASO test results.
H. Nakanishi et al. / JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370 369
pressure of 0.24 Mpa, and a before-braking pad
temperature of 402001C. The frequency of occurrence
of brake squeal was 4 times and the maximum sound
volume was 78 dB. This is substantially equivalent to the
brake squeal level of the conventional FC rotor
combined with the conventional brake pad.
5. Conclusions
We have developed an improved Al-MMC disc brake,
based on the ndings discussed below:
(1) The higher content of the hard particles on the
frictional surface of the brake rotor enhances the heat
resistance of the brake rotor.
(2) The lm formed on the frictional surface of the
brake rotor is affected by the ratio of the quantity and
the size of the hard particles included in the brake rotor
to those of the hard particles included in the brake pad.
Regulation of the thickness of the lm ensures stable
friction.
We will further examine the adaptability of the
developed Al-MMC disc brake to the vehicle, such as
the cooling properties. We will also try to further
reduce the manufacturing cost and the total weight of
the disc brake by using aluminum for calipers and
junctions.
References
[1] R. Dwivedi, Development of advanced reinforced aluminum brake
rotors, SAE950264.
[2] O. Osawa, Development of Al-MMC disc rotors, Proc. Technical
Presentation of JSAE Chubu Branch, 1998 (in Japanese with
English abstract).
[3] N. Odani, M. Kobayashi, K. Kakihara, Effects of transferred
surface lm on disc brake pad in humid environment, SAE 1999-
01-3391.
Fig. 14. Pad wear per 1000 braking times.
H. Nakanishi et al. / JSAE Review 23 (2002) 365370 370