Friction materials are a type of material employed to produce friction in situations where slow or decreased movement is needed. The definition of friction is the resistance to relative motion that opposes an object’s direction of movement. Friction is produced when a solid object comes into contact with a deviating surface. Friction can be used anywhere from simply slowing down or stopping an object to accelerating it to a certain speed.
Applications include clutch and brake systems, operating systems, automotive equipment, gear tooth systems, and industrial machinery that all need to be able to stop or slow down their processes. Components such as friction pads and linings and disc brake pads are made from friction materials. Industries that make frequent use of these products include construction, automotive, forestry, oil and gas, and mining.
Friction materials are used in braking systems to slow down wheels or bring them to a stop, as well as preventing movement altogether for other components. Pressing a brake activates a system where a friction material is placed against a moving disc, thus slowing down the connecting wheels.
Since heat energy is a byproduct of the process of creating friction, manufacturers typically use materials that are resistant to heat to make friction materials. The most popular choice for friction materials used to be fibers made from asbestos. However, due to the increase of health concerns associated with exposure to asbestos, ceramic has become a popular material to use as an alternative.
Ceramic is highly durable and resistant to heat and is thus used in high friction environments. Friction materials need to be capable of enduring high amounts of physical stress, since the wearing down of material unavoidably produces friction.
In addition, manufacturers made products such as semi-metallic brake materials using brass, copper, and steel wool bonded by resin. These elements are similar to ceramic in terms of durability.
Considerations and Customization
The type of material used depends significantly on the type of friction that is needed. Types of friction include static, kinetic, and rolling friction.
Occurs when two solid objects do not move relative to each other, and movement is prevented altogether. An important thing to consider when implementing this type of friction is the slope of the surface.
This happens when two objects move relative to one another. One surface may be moving along a stationary object, or both surfaces may be in motion.
This type involves the use of wheels or balls. During rolling friction, a rough material catches a wheel or ball, preventing it from slipping or sliding. For example, when a car tire spins on ice or snow, friction prevents it from catching on the ground and allows it to keep rotating.
To determine the best friction materials for the job, manufacturers also think about how quickly the friction needs to stop the object or system (the higher the friction, the faster the object can be stopped), how frequently the friction material will be used, budget, required chemical resistance, required wear resistance, permissible heat generation, required energy absorption and coefficient of friction.
In order to provide additional friction and therefore increase their efficiency, friction materials are textured or have a rough surface. Manufacturers utilize smoother surfaces to transport materials more efficiently. Also, manufacturers can add rubber to enhance the braking system’s ability to produce surface friction. However, the more texture is added to a surface, the greater the amount of energy required to move over it. To discuss your friction material design possibilities, talk to a supplier today.
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