Alcon: Testing Key to Ultra-High-Performance Brakes

Source: Alcon

TAMWORTH, U.K. – Specialist design and state-of-the-art testing regimes are key to producing ultra-high-performance braking systems, according to Alcon.

With wide-ranging clients internationally, each with bespoke, specialist requirements, Alcon’s expertise ranges from the production of tiny brake-by-wire controllers for Formula E racing cars to high-strength calipers required to stop 35 tons of armored vehicle.

Looking specifically at the defense market, brake discs and calipers are often procured from separate companies; a system that fails to acknowledge the critical importance of the relationship between these two components.  Separation in the design of the two can, not only lead to reduced performance, but also conflicts between supplier and customer.  

Where Alcon excels is the simultaneous design and development of caliper and disc, creating a unified system.  With refinements in materials, design and specification of caliper, pad and disc as a system, Alcon succeeds in reducing disc temperatures, and thus the potential for brake failure, as well as cutting down the noise produced by their braking systems.

Extensive testing regimes have proven that friction performance and stability is best achieved through specific combinations of pad and disc materials.  Alcon’s engineers create a design around their client’s specification, then carry out Finite Element Analysis to simulate high loads and temperatures.

As well as making sure that the disc will not fail, this detailed analysis is also used to reduce disc coning and deflection to acceptable levels.  Alcon’s discs are twin turned to reduce DTV (disc thickness variation) at their latest, high-tech machining centers.

Alcon carry out specific dynamometer tests for strength, cracking and deflection, as well as friction performance, with a new NVH dynamometer allowing their R&D team to detect, measure and solve brake noise and vibrations during the development phase of a new product.

The dynamometer utilizes state-of-the-art technology to closely simulate actual operating conditions.  The test chamber environment is highly regulated; with temperatures ranging from -20°C – 50°C and humidity from 10 to 95 percent. The dynamometer also features low speed / stationary operation and wet test operation.  Alcon has one of only 2 NVH dynamometers in the UK, and when not in use for Alcon’s own research, they make the test facility available to OEMs requiring its services.

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Mike Geylin
Mike Geylin

Mike Geylin is the Editor-in-Chief at Hagman Media. Geylin has been in automotive communications for five decades working in all aspects of the industry from OEM to supplier to motorsports as well as reporting for both newspapers and magazines on the industry.