Niobium Can Mean Better, Less Costly Discs

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Araxá, Brazil — CBMM, the world’s leading supplier of Niobium products and technologies, headquartered in Brazil, published the following explanation of Niobium’s abilities to both improve brake disc longevity and control production costs.

Compared with other more expensive materials, a niobium alloy strategy for gray cast iron to be used in brake discs can result reduction around 10 percent in production costs, besides helping extend brake disc life.

In a moving vehicle, during the braking process, brake discs are subject to thermal and mechanical stresses that can be quite high, especially when braking needs to be abrupt, in fractions of a second. And the use of advanced materials contributes not only to the better performance of these braking systems, but also to the significant reduction of the costs of these products.

According to Erico França, a market development professional at CBBM, “for the industrial sector, having the ability of alloy and process optimization in a short time, with safety and reliability, is a crucial factor to ensure competitiveness. Even more so in sectors that are constantly subjected to the complex search for excellence and profitability, such as the manufacturing of automotive components.”

He adds that the same materials may also have completely different prices compared to other regions of the globe.

“As an example, we have recently in the manufacture of brake systems, significant price fluctuations in molybdenum, chromium, copper and manganese, which can compromise the healthy production of automotive components that use this type of metals.”

One option to mitigate such price fluctuations is to work on the alloy-design optimization, aiming to achieve the same final performance with a different alloying strategy. Niobium (Nb) can help in finding the solution. Recent tests, carried out both in laboratories and in industry, have already shown that applying 0.1 percent niobium can replace 0.2 percent molybdenum.

“In an economic comparison, this difference in gray cast iron alloys for brake discs with niobium can represent around 10% cost reduction, depending on the alloy composition,” said França.

Therefore, the quality and choice of materials used to produce the brake discs of automotive vehicles are decisive, not only for the effectiveness of the braking system – directly impacting the safety of the pilot and passengers – but also for the durability and for the manufacturing costs. Furthermore, results of durability tests under thermal fatigue on ventilated brake discs showed a 17percent increase in niobium disc life, compared to the same component with molybdenum. Another important fact was the 4.4 percent reduction in wear measured under the same conditions.

The market development professional adds that niobium’s potential use in the automotive industry is very broad. In addition to enabling improvements in the braking system – such as reduced wear, greater durability, and better efficiency – the metal can also be used in vehicle structure, for lighter and safer vehicles and batteries, to obtain unique characteristics, such as ultra-fast charging, greater energy density, as well as improved safety and stability compared to traditional batteries. “Currently, technologies containing niobium are among the most advanced materials for the development of the next generation of batteries”, concludes França.

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CBMM is a world leader in the manufacture and supply of niobium products. It offers teams that can advise manufacturers and product engineering areas in the redesign of existing alloys for brake discs and drums, regardless of the type of vehicle. And it provides this service free of charge, from design to follow-up in the foundry, as well as in testing laboratories and field tests.

The Brake Report
The Brake Report

The BRAKE Report is an online media platform dedicated to the automotive and commercial vehicle brake segments. Our mission is to provide the global brake community with the latest news & headlines from around the industry.