While some advanced, lighter-weight materials have come into vogue on certain high-end/exotic cars, a majority of all OE automotive brake discs are produced from regular cast iron. That material does the job, but issues such as corrosion and relatively high mass are the unavoidable trade-off of their low cost.
Enter Ford Motor Company, which has applied for a US patent relating to a process for manufacturing lightweight aluminum-alloy brake discs using 3D-printing technology. The patent calls for hypereutectic aluminum-silicon alloys – that is, aluminum alloys with a high silicon content – so that the discs can meet the harsh temperature and abrasion resistance demands placed on such a part. Using these materials in the manufacture of brake discs is not a new idea, the patent notes, but until now, “issues [with their]castability and high aftermachining costs” have prevented them from establishing themselves in the market.