DRESDEN, Germany – LF GmbH & Co. KG, which is promoting its LIQFRIC approach to friction technology, was at EuroBrake 2019 updating its business plan and product offering, which focuses on applying friction material onto brakes and clutches in liquid form before curing.
The result of this approach, says the company, is a reduction of thermal energy consumption by up to 85%.
The Brake Report has followed the development of LIQFRIC since it was founded. We spoke with Roman Milczarek, chairman and managing director at LF, to get updated on the company’s progress.
The company said here that it can support manufacturing requests for prototypes for customers ranging from experimental to bulk.
TBR: We spoke with you in early 2018. What has changed since then as far as advancing the innovative approach to friction coatings?
RM: LF KG has started to sample the organic friction compounds with various potential customers to learn about the performance in the field of clutches and other application as early as possible. We have used the feedback to further develop the material concept in terms of shrinkage and mechanical stability. We are now in generation 3.0 (organic) and are excited to test the compounds with thin film clutches with a customer. We had the opportunity to test the compound on brake friction application with some good initial results. In parallel, we have started a program to eliminate the challenges of the handling of solvents in the organic compounds.
Since the beginning of 2019, we have sampled a new series of LIQFRIC HP which is based on an inorganic binder system. We have generated in the meantime a number of AKM tests that can show the performance characteristic of the concept. Important for LF GmbH & Co. KG is that we could sustain our strategy of a liquid compound during the manufacturing process of the friction parts. The friction level can be set to rage from µ= 0,3-0,5 and temperature ranges from ambient to 600°C, while the wear is acceptable. We think the range of application justifies the name LIQFRIC HP for high performance.
In February of this year we opened up a grinding center which allows us to make all the needed forms/mold/tool for our sampling in-house without any outside input. With two prospective customers, we could show that we can take their DXF data-file of the finished product and convert this into the polymer-based forms/mold/tool for our prototype manufacturing area. Of course our facilities are kind of small but we can support now any forms/mold/tool-design required by a potential customer and have the prototype ready within 2 days. Within less than a week time from receiving the data to shipping the friction products we can make a solid friction material prototype and ship it to the business partner. Our team is very proud about this.
We launched The LIQFRIC HP concept at the EuroBrake.
TBR: So you have customers very much interested?
RM: We can say that we are testing and prototyping with five companies in the field of clutch, industrial, rail and automotive brake friction applications. As these tests include long-term performance testing, this process will take a little longer than we would like. But this process improves the learning curve to prove it out. Recently, we passed an AKM test and since then the interest in the material concept is starting to increase.
TBR: When do you anticipate the first real sales?
RM: Given the status of results, the progress made and an already established manufacturing capacity for the organic and inorganic compound, we think the first sales may happen before the end of this year.
To support the industrial integration to our business partners, we have now agreed to a cooperation deal with an equipment manufacturer dedicated to the friction industry for the integration of our concept. After formalization, we will be able to announce details in the second half of 2019. We think this is a big step for us and will create most of the benefit to our valued potential customers allowing compounds and processes to support each other most efficiently.