Carbon Ceramic Brakes

Nowadays, if you are lucky enough to be able to afford a sport car, one decision has to be made with regards to the extras: the brakes. Are the famous carbon ceramic brakes that special? Let´s find out some of their features.


Carbon ceramic brake (source: Olivier Delorme)

Carbon ceramic brakes consist of carbon fibre reinforced silicon carbide. In this case, the matrix is made of silicon carbide (SiC) and silicon (Si), whereas the reinforcement is made of popular carbon fibre. The matrix provides the hardness to the composite material and the fibres are responsible for the fracture toughness.

The main advantage of this type of brake is its capability to absorb extremely high temperatures. Why is this important? Well, sport cars can go fast… very fast. Therefore, there is also a need for reducing the speed of the vehicle as fast as possible. Since the brakes use friction in order to slow the cars down, heat is generated and it can decrease the efficiency of those particular components. Hence, having brake disks which contain modifications in order to withstand those high temperatures, is a must.

In addition, this composite material reduces the weight of brake disks up to 50% when compared to conventional ones. Furthermore, carbon ceramic brakes do not suffer corrosion, which is a major problem for iron brake disks. Apart from that, other merits include: longer life, less dust (in metal brakes, the dust have magnetic properties due to static electricity, resulting in particles which remain on metal parts around the disk) and less noise.

Nonetheless, there are also two drawbacks that should be considered. The first one is its high price. For obvious reasons, the carbon ceramic brakes are way more expensive than conventional ones, but, from my point of view, if someone has the money to buy a sport car, paying an extra for this brakes should be mandatory. On the other hand, with these brake disks drivers can feel a lack of braking efficiency when  they are not going too fast. The reason for this is that, due to the nature of the material, these brakes are designed to perform at their optimum for higher temperatures. This means that even though having disks made of silicon carbide may look cool in all cars, the reality is that they wouldn’t be the best option for regular road cars.

Finally, in order to conclude, I would like to include an episode of How It’s Made, where the manufacturing process of carbon ceramic brakes is explained (source: Brembo).


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