STEZZANO, Italy – Ten thousand dollars (around €8,700) – a sum that could buy a lot of things, including a host of second-hand cars, brakes included, if you know how to choose well.
However, $10,000 is also the price of a set of Brembo carbon-ceramic brake discs. A figure which – as we are well aware – is beyond the means of many drivers.
And even many of those who could afford them may find it hard to comprehend why the price is so high.
In reality, there are a number of important reasons why these discs cost so much, as Jason Fenske, brilliant mechanical engineer who graduated from North Carolina State University, demonstrates. You can find the full explanation in one of his videos on the Engineering Explained Youtube channel (click HERE).
During his analysis, Jason compares a cast iron disc with that of a carbon-ceramic disc of similar dimensions. By dimensions, we mean diameter and thickness; the masses of the two discs are very different, as we will see.
Three main differences can be observed:
1) The material: cast iron is significantly cheaper than carbon. Furthermore, carbon-ceramic discs use higher-quality fasteners because the discs last longer than conventional versions and as such, the materials used also need to last longer.
2) The production process: a cast iron disc takes just 90 minutes to make, compared to the three weeks of processing required to make a carbon-ceramic disc, due to the large number of stages and the complexity of each individual steps, many of which are carried out by highly specialized workers and equipment.
3) Economies of scale: carbon discs are produced in infinitesimal quantities compared to cast iron discs, and similarly, the components of the former are also manufactured in very small quantities. Accordingly, the economies of scale seen with the production of cast iron discs do not apply to their carbon counterparts.
Having clarified the reasons for their apparently high price, Fenske also highlights the 10 advantages offered by carbon-ceramic discs.
1) No brake fade
2) Weight savings
3) Reduced rotational inertia
4) Improved grip
5) Superior quality steering
6) Dimensional stability
7) Longer useful life
8) Reduced dust production
9) No corrosion
10) Striking appearance, immediately recognizable
Real reasons, and not just marketing claims.
In addition, the majority of those who try them have no regrets; they prefer to view the purchase as an investment, as opposed to added costs.