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Brembo. Xtra-class braking

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  • Дата: 14-02-2023, 15:21
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For car enthusiasts who want to get brakes with improved performance without reworking the brake system, there is an offer of perforated Brembo Xtra brake discs. Having visited the presentation of this line at the plant in Bergamo, we are ready to share with readers the nuances of the development and production of products of the legendary brand.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

From simple discs to ventilated discs, from solid discs to composite ones. From disks with a continuous working surface - to disks with a notch and perforation. The theme of the presentation at the Brembo factory was the line of perforated Xtra discs, which occupied a niche between standard solutions and exclusive tuning.

Where do the "holes" in the discs come from?

The attitude towards perforated discs after their appearance among professionals and avid motorists was divided, and often to extremes. Some thought it was nothing more than a marketing ploy. Their opponents, on the contrary, based on ideas about tribology, assessed the innovation positively. At the same time, some artisans even undertook to drill holes in the disks themselves. Of course, we do not have statistics on the number of cases in which this led to premature failure of disks or even more serious consequences. However, in any case, it is obvious that artisanal intervention in systems related to traffic safety is unacceptable.

With that said, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to find out how holes in brake discs actually appear. But first you need to find out their purpose. Five points can be noted in which the effect of perforation is manifested. Firstly, the presence of holes provides a higher coefficient of adhesion to the block. At first glance, it may seem that it is the opposite - it should be smaller, because the contact area is somewhat reduced. However, in reality, the difference in the contact area is only a couple of percent, because holes occupy a very small fraction of the surface of the disk. But the presence of the edges of the edges of the holes causes an effect that can be compared with the presence of sipes on the tire tread. Absolutely solid materials do not exist in nature - both the disc metal and the friction lining have elastic deformation properties. Its values are microscopic, but they take place.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The essence of the brake mechanism is the conversion of mechanical (kinetic) energy into heat. Thus, the heating of the disc and pads is not a side effect, but a direct consequence of the very principle of their operation. Changing the values of elastic deformation during the passage of the block section along the edges of the holes is an additional way of “removing” energy, which allows the system to perform its function faster. The result is a faster and more efficient response from the braking system. This does not affect the total amount of heat generated - in any case, its production is equal to the amount of energy that must be absorbed when a car with a conditional weight of 1 ton stops at a speed of 100 km / h. It's just that the process of this transformation is somewhat faster.

When it comes to the production of brake systems (calipers) for OEMs, Brembo focuses only on the premium segment of cars with aluminum calipers. If we talk only about brake discs, then in this segment Brembo covers not only the premium, luxury and “royal” segments of cars, but also the upper part of the middle class. Naturally, according to European concepts, when the premium class starts with the Mercedes C-Class, BMW 4 series, Audi A4. And the upper segment of the middle class includes such models as the Audi A3, BMW 1, Mercedes A-Class.

The second property of perforated discs is the ability to effectively clean the pads. This does not mean that the edges of the disc holes literally have an abrasive effect, "eating" the block, which would lead to its accelerated wear. If you look closely, the edges of the holes are bored at an angle of about 45 degrees to the surface of the disk. However, at the moment of passage of the pad section above the free space, the same elastic forces, being released, repel the wear products from the surface of the pad. It also prevents the formation of a deposit of iron-containing material that appears on the friction material of the pad from the wear of the brake disc. A clean pad works more efficiently, and the absence of various "garbage" between it and the disc even slows down the process of abrasive destruction of the surface.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The third positive factor is the ability of perforation, due to the already mentioned repulsive forces, as well as the property of strong expansion of air in the hole when heated, to effectively disperse the layer of water that can cover the pad and disc when driving in rain or due to condensation. Therefore, the system responds effectively from the very beginning of braking, even when driving on wet roads. The fourth property is the removal of gases from the combustion of resins, which are the fastening element of the friction mixture. That is, the phenomenon of feeding is prevented - a decrease in the coefficient of friction between the brake pad and the disc due to the formation of a gas layer. And finally, the presence of perforation corny contributes to better heat transfer and heat dissipation. As you can see, the presence of perforation solves several problems, some of which may be mutually exclusive: an increase in braking force while reducing the risk of overheating of discs and pads, effective braking and protection from abrasive wear products.

Brembo XTRA disc family

Brembo XTRA discs have been designed to bridge the gap between very expensive solutions for technical tuning enthusiasts and discs to increase the performance of the brake system without changing it. Before their introduction, Brembo products could be divided into 4 categories.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The first is the OEM-designed smooth-surfaced rims. The second is their complete analogues for the secondary market. The third is special discs for those who want to get the maximum performance from the brake system without changing the brake system itself. The fourth type of discs were high-end solutions for those who put performance above all else - for example, street racers. For such discs for sports and tuning, it is necessary to completely change the braking system. That is, this is a very expensive solution for those who are not limited in funds.

Thus, the niche of car owners who want to get the highest possible performance without reworking the brake system turned out to be unoccupied. This niche was occupied by Brembo Xtra. Now people who are passionate about cars, including those who are not the wealthiest, can afford a highly efficient solution. The portrait of the consumer of this category of discs in Brembo is seen as follows. The Xtra series of perforated discs is intended for a youth and middle-aged audience (20-45 years old) who are passionate about cars. Such a driver is immersed in the most innovative technological solutions. He is an avid reader of automotive magazines, following specialized forums and thematic groups on social networks.

Half a century of passion

In 1961, Emilio Bombassei and Italo Breda founded the Mechanical Workshops, which became the original foundation of the Brembo concern. Soon there was a large-scale accident involving an Alfa Romeo truck due to problems with the brake system manufactured by another European country (in Italy at that time no one produced brake discs). It became obvious that against the background of the growth of speeds, it is necessary to revise the approaches to the braking system. Brembo saw this niche, and in 1964 the first production of brake discs was opened. The real recognition of Brembo's quality and technology came in 1975 when Enzo Ferrari entrusted the Bergamo company with the most prestigious Formula 1 single seater. and aftermarket, Brembo has become a leader in its sector.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Such a car owner cares about the maintenance of his own car and at the same time is ready to experience new driving emotions by making the most effective decisions. Drives mainly in a sports car (although it can be a compact car), professes an "aggressive" driving style. Naturally, if there is space and the opportunity to accelerate, such a driver will not miss it, but at the same time he thinks how he will stop if something happens.

Thus, Brembo Xtra combines the characteristics of a product for enthusiasts with part of the characteristics of brake discs for professionals. Or, you could say that Brembo Xtra is for those who want to significantly improve the performance of their car's braking system, but are not ready or able to spend a lot of money on it. And, of course, for those who are not ready to sacrifice security.

When developing Brembo Xtra discs, special attention was paid to safety and to fully comply with the strict requirements in terms of strength and durability. In matters of security, the developer does not allow compromises. The number, size, shape and location of each hole are specially designed and tested for each specific Xtra series disc.

Science and Technology Park Kilometro Rosso (Red Kilometer)

The Red Kilometer Science and Technology Park, located along the A4 motorway near Bergamo, is home to a large number of research centers, laboratories, high-tech industries and innovative services. The Technopark is a center of excellence and a platform for hosting companies that provide various expensive research equipment for use.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The complex is an interdisciplinary alliance that promotes dialogue between the academic, entrepreneurial and scientific worlds. The Park houses high-tech production facilities of various industries: the Brembo Research Center (mechatronics, sensory and mechanics), the Brembo SGL Carbon Ceramic Brakes laboratories (a joint venture created by Brembo and the SGL Group), Petroceramics (a spin-off of the University of Milan, which is engaged in the research and development of modern ceramic materials and processing of geomaterials), Intellimech (mechatronics - technology platforms suitable for cross-industry applications, the most significant Italian initiative in this sector), Gruppo Italcementi research center ("i.Lab" - modern materials and chemistry), new laboratories of the institute Mario Negri (Biotechnology), Innovation Center of the University of Bergamo and many others.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

All positions (catalogue numbers) in the Brembo Xtra catalog differ from each other. They have a different layout and hole size. These parameters depend on the disc and on which car it was created for. The type of car, its speed characteristics, engine power and power-to-weight ratio, transmission and even the intended driving style are taken into account according to the psychological portrait of a typical owner. The situations and conditions that a disk will encounter during its lifetime are known. In accordance with this, the disk is tested and the holes are located exactly in those places where they are guaranteed not to weaken the disk as a whole.

Research and testing

The statement that the parameters of discs for each usage, including the location of holes in perforated discs, is not just words. It is supported by facts, the most important of which is the amount of Brembo's investment in research and development (R&D). It represents about 5% of Brembo's annual turnover, which is a whopping sum. The R&D division is exclusively engaged in research, development of prototypes, product testing, the search for new technical solutions and materials, and new opportunities. R&D employs 10% of the total number of employees of the company - at the heart of these are engineers and technicians with specialized education.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Traditionally, Brembo's R&D department was located only in the Kilometro Rosso (Red Kilometer) science and technology park in Bergamo, but now the company is spreading R&D activities around the world. Subsidiaries are already opened in China, North America and Poland. A local presence allows a better understanding of the realities of specific markets, direct contact with car manufacturers and aftermarket parts suppliers, and ultimately understanding the needs of end customers in the light of vehicle operating conditions.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Subdivision Brembo R&D doesn't just take orders from car manufacturers to develop brake discs to specific specifications. Often, company engineers participate in the joint development of technologies that are just being introduced. One such technology is “electronic” brakes. And it's not just about the electromechanical parking brake or electronically controlled systems (Brake-by-wire, EBS), which are already used in cars. Today, fully electric braking systems are already being developed, without the use of hydraulics.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Electrically actuated systems may seem structurally simple, but in fact, even an electromechanical parking brake is not a simple device. There are a wide range of parameters that need to be controlled to ensure security. As for the main brake with electrical activation or drive, it is still more difficult there. After all, theoretically, an electro-brake based on an electromagnet could be made a hundred years ago. But enough knowledge has not been accumulated to make it safe. Therefore, the electric brake has found application only on trams - they travel on rails and the uneven braking force will not affect the trajectory of their movement.

At the first stage of creating a prototype of the brake system, experts determine the set of the most successfully combined components. Then the prototype is sent for testing: bench tests, MTBF, road tests. In the process of life testing, the components of the brake system prototype are actuated millions of times in various conditions, including in aggressive environments. We are talking about at least hundreds of thousands and even millions of positives. Components are tested for corrosion in salt fog, etc.

In the first department, which we were shown, tests with an electric brake were just being carried out. In particular, parameters such as speed, drive force, and so on were determined. Also, specialists conduct simulations, for which many stands are used in combination with special software for vehicle simulations, as well as determining the parameters that should be subsequently achieved in tests on real cars.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

In the next department, called dynobench, dynamic tests are carried out - the performance of braking systems is studied. Both individual components are examined using a brake dynamometer, as well as the system as a whole. The assembled brake system works in the same way as on a car: the brake disc is spun, the caliper is actuated, and the automation measures pressure, temperature, speed and other parameters. This is necessary to study the performance of the braking system as a whole, its fault tolerance, limit loads and parameters under which the system retains its functionality.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

It is noteworthy that a very large part of the work is occupied by the study of system noise and the struggle to reduce it. Automakers pay great attention to this, along with safety - comfort is an important argument in the fight for the sympathy of car owners for the brand. This stage is called NVH. (NVH - Noize, Vibration and Harshness). These are analogues of the term N&V (Noize and Vibration). About 60% of the work falls on this stage. The brake system is mounted on a stand that imitates a part of a car with a wheel, this is called the corner of the vehicle.

The study of the noise of the brake system includes three types of studies: bench tests, testing of the brake system in a special chamber and on the track. The fact is that on the track it is impossible to study in detail the sources of noise and the ways of their propagation, so you first need to bring the system to the required conditions, and only then confirm them in real drives.

The brake noise test chamber is equipped to test the brakes of a conventional vehicle. The camera has a wide variety of equipment, including microphones. The latter allow you to very accurately determine not only the degree of noise of the brake system, but also the source of noise. A wide variety of tests are carried out here, which last days and nights. In this way, all possible conditions for the occurrence of noise in the brake system are recreated.

If the system fixates deviations in the noise parameters during one of the tests, it is repeated until the exact noise source is identified. The testing procedure in the chamber is very lengthy: the brake system is tested under a huge combination of conditions: different temperatures of the disc, calipers, wheel speeds, brake pad pressure, air humidity, and so on. We were shown carbon-ceramic discs, which are equipped on all Ferrari models. One disc is normal, without any anti-noise devices, and two others with different anti-noise solutions, ready for the test.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

In the next department, cars are prepared for the brake test on the track, a very expensive testing phase in which the brake system is tested in real conditions on the road or race track. It is desirable that during their course it does not turn out that the system makes more noise than indicated in the terms of reference - so that you do not have to start all over again. After all, the automaker will not accept the system, no matter how effective it may be, if the noise level is exceeded by even 1 dB. That is why the track testing is preceded by such a long testing phase in the “sound studio”.

True, in some cases, you still have to conduct laboratory and track tests in parallel. Sometimes automakers like Ferrari and BMW insist on a joint testing program – to their standards, on vehicles specially prepared by them, fitted with test parts and Brembo test/diagnostic equipment. Races are held at the sites of automakers or other tracks - given the abundance of special tracks in this region of Italy, the company does not need to build its own track.

Brembo tries to maintain a close relationship with other companies that are located in the Red Kilometer Park. This helps to find optimal solutions. For example, when developing brake pads, Brembo collaborates with asphalt manufacturers to take into account the nuances of the development and build-up of braking force when driving on different surfaces.

The birth of the disk

Brembo has its own foundry. Cast iron is smelted from scrap metal, adding chemicals to the melt during production, which are necessary to create metal of a certain quality. When the "blank" is cast, the first thing to do is grind it. After grinding, which is carried out in 3 stages, the disc is conveyed to the drilling machine by means of a conveyor belt. A drilling robot drills holes on the disk for bolts to fasten the disk to the hub. All metal waste generated during the processing of disks is sent back to the smelter for remelting.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The next step is balancing the brake disc. The robot checks the balance of the product and, if necessary, undermines it in the right places. After balancing, the discs are marked in accordance with the requirements of legislation and car manufacturers, and then the quality control of the product is carried out: the dimensions of the disc, radial runout and checking for the absence of microcracks in the electromagnetic field. Although the control stage is fully automatic, it is duplicated by manual checking - one disc out of 30 passes the size control before painting. After quality control, the wheels are sent for painting. And after painting, one disc out of 30 passes a manual check of the thickness of the paint layer.

Obviously, the appearance of rust on already installed or new disks is unattractive. However, the coloring of discs is not only an aesthetic function. This solution has been designed with practicality in mind. During storage and transportation, the disc is completely protected by a layer of paint, but this layer has a different thickness on different surfaces. On the working surface of the brake disc, the layer is very thin and is erased during the first use of the brakes. On the remaining surfaces of the disc, the paint layer is thicker and remains until the end of the life of the part. The mechanic can start installing it right away as the disc comes dry and does not need to be degreased, which requires time and expense for cleaning agents.

Aluminum calipers

Aluminum for calipers is melted from ingots. The process begins with the melting of aluminum ingots at temperatures up to 1000 degrees. Then additional components (magnesium, titanium, silicon, etc.) are added to the melt, thus creating an alloy with the desired characteristics. The quality control of the resulting mixture is carried out directly in the process of its preparation, since it will no longer be possible to adjust its composition at later stages of production.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Historically, the Brembo name is inextricably linked with motor racing. And it really became a part of the company, an integral component of its culture. Naturally, Brembo is both a sponsor and supplier of the Ferrari F1 racing team. For all other teams - only the supplier. Although in any case, the presence of the brand in the "Formula 1" is not a profitable occupation. The number of teams is not large enough to pay for the development and production of the components that are supplied to them. It's a matter of prestige.

Casting molds are made of steel, and bushings for internal holes and cavities are made from a mixture of sand and glue. After casting, the sand is knocked out of the workpiece, and the excess casting is cut off by robots. To give additional strength to the manufactured parts, they are kept for 5 hours in an oven at a high temperature after rough cutting. Then the aluminum part of the caliper goes to the final processing. In this production, aluminum parts of the caliper are cast for the production of Brembo brake systems in different countries. We came across a batch destined for shipment to the Czech Republic.

Since after the production cycle up to 50% of the metal remains, which is recycled, it is necessary to clean it from the sand and dust used in the casting process. There is a system of five cleaning stations for their cleaning at the production site. The sand left after casting the workpiece is not thrown away, but sent for processing. This is done by an outsourcing company that removes impurities from the sand that has passed the production process, mixes it with glue and supplies the mixture back to the plant in a form ready for use.

All detected reject is sent for processing immediately. That means if some technological violation is found in the casting process, a batch of blanks is sent for processing without reasoning and analysis, how much the violation could affect / not affect their quality. In general, the level of quality control of manufactured products is a matter of special pride for Brembo.

Many control operations are carried out at the stage of launching a new product into production. In the laboratory, the manufactured caliper is cut into pieces in different planes and the structure of the metal is checked using microscopes. Then, already in the process of serial production, after every 10,000 units of production, it is cut and examined in detail under a microscope for the quality of production.

In the production process, there are also 2 types of control. Surface control (checking for the absence of possible cracks and chips on the caliper body) is carried out using UV rays and a liquid luminous in ultraviolet. The caliper is lowered into the liquid, then cleaned of it. If there is a crack or chip on the surface, then the remaining liquid glows in the ultraviolet, indicating this. The second method of control is fluoroscopy, which passes 100% of products. After the product passes the control, the worker marks the part with a special symbol. This is the last phase of work at this production facility. Then the parts are sent to other factories.

Brembo in Europe and worldwide

On the world map, Brembo is represented by four research laboratories, 18 production facilities and 24 commercial offices.

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

Marco Moretti, Marketing Director of the aftermarket parts group:
In the aftermarket, Brembo works with all categories of vehicles. And although Brembo is positioned unequivocally as a premium brand, this does not mean that it is more expensive than products from other quality brands. However, in any case, it is obvious that these are products for car owners who love themselves and their car, want it to look beautiful on open-architecture rims, and, of course, do not forget about safety.

In the home of the brand, in Italy, three factories produce brake discs, calipers and carbon-ceramic brake discs, parts for motorcycle brake systems and systems for racing vehicles. The brake pads are manufactured at the Cournot plant. Another production of carbon-ceramic brake discs is located in Germany, a caliper plant is in the Czech Republic. The largest disk production plant in Poland, in the town of D?browa Gornicza, and nearby, in Cz?stochowa, produces cast-iron calipers for trucks. The company also has several factories for the production of sports brake systems in the UK.

The remaining Brembo production sites are located in North and South America, India and China.

Despite such an impressive list of own productions, Brembo buys certain items from other manufacturers. We are talking about hydraulic components, brake fluid, restored calipers (aluminum, according to the company's specialists, cannot be restored), as well as part of the brake pads for disc and drum brakes. This is a normal practice even for such large manufacturers. The number of brake systems sold by Brembo is very large and the company cannot physically produce everything necessary.

When Brembo buys something from subcontractors, it is mandatory to check the quality of the purchased parts, thereby guaranteeing “Brembo quality”. A special department works on checking the quality of purchased products in Brembo. This is despite the fact that first-tier companies act as suppliers.
Brembo factories are almost constantly loaded with work at 100%. This is a round-the-clock non-stop operation in three shifts. During the peak season, the factories work an additional two shifts on Saturday and one on Sunday. Breaks in work are used for preventive maintenance, maintenance and adjustment of equipment, cleaning of melting furnaces, etc.

Brembo structure

Brembo's structure includes 5 different business units. The first two departments deal with the production and sales of brake discs (separate) and brake systems (complete) for OEM. The third division deals with the manufacture and sale of motorcycle brake systems (for OEM and aftermarket).

Brembo. Xtra-class braking

The division, in fact, the aftermarket is responsible for the sale of brake system components for passenger cars and commercial vehicles to the secondary market. At the same time, the same Brembo parts go to the secondary market as conveyor deliveries.

The fifth division is engaged in the production and sale of brake components for sports and tuning. His competence covers the production and sale of automotive brake system components both for professionals participating in international and regional competitions (Formula 1, HASCAR, Superbike, Indy, etc.), and for enthusiasts who like to drive on the track on a day off. That is for fans looking to get the most out of their car. This division has its own production of some specific high-end products (for example, the production of carbon brake discs for the F1), which is produced in limited editions, but also uses products from other Brembo divisions.

In addition to all of the above, Brembo owns AP-Racing in the UK. AP-Racing is a specialty product focused exclusively on professional auto and motorsports, which does not fall into the aftermarket. Clutches for sports cars are also produced under this brand. Thus, in racing the company is represented by two brands: Brembo and AP Racing. Both brands are owned by Brembo and are available to all sports teams, but they are positioned separately.

Alexander Kelm, Kyiv - Bergamo - Kyiv

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