Latest Insights in the Evolving Digital World

Friction Discs are Important to Industry

What do some bikes, automobiles and many kinds of movable industrial equipment have in common? Wheels? Yes. Gears? Yes. Frames, chains or belts, seats, steering mechanisms and oil? Alright, so they’ve got a lot in common. But they’ve also got something in common that might not immediately occur to everyone: friction discs. Friction discs are essential parts of the braking systems of an extensive variety of vehicles and equipment. They can be found mounted on axles of bicycles, automobiles and even sometimes in industrial equipment that involve parts that rotate at high speeds.

Friction discs are so widely used because they are simple and effective motion control tools. Because of their simplicity and ease of use, they are some of the most widely used friction materials in existence. When trying to understand what friction discs are and how they work, it can be helpful to think of an example in context. Imagine that you’re looking at the front wheel of a bicycle from the side (so that the spokes and circular shape of the wheel are both clearly apparent to you). On many kinds of bikes, where the forks open up around the wheel, you would see a braking mechanism that makes direct contact with the tire. But on other types of bikes, usually high-end models, if you look at the center of the wheel you might see a disc that encircles the wheel’s axle. Around that disc you would find a small caliper assembly that, when controlled by the hand brake mounted on the handlebars above, would cause friction materials within the caliper to close around the disc, causing the wheel’s rotation to slow down.

This is the means by which all friction discs operate: they are mounted to axles, and their motion is controlled by the friction caused by contact with brake pads.