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Lightweight Construction

Ford hopes to make brake discs much lighter with 3D

The U.S.-based automobile manufacturer seeks to make brake discs from an aluminum alloy which is intended to only weigh half as much as conventional discs. The basis for the innovation is a 3D-printing process.

05 Sep. 2018
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Ford hopes to make brake discs much lighter with 3D (Photo: The Ford Motor Company)

Brake discs are usually made of cast iron, which can tolerate temperatures of around 750 degrees, as may occur in several braking processes in succession. Aluminum alloys have so far been considered unsuitable because their melting point is below 650 degrees. Ford now wants to change all that with a 3D-printing process. The automobile manufacturer has submitted a patent for printing lightweight brake discs .

It describes a method of laser metal depositing (LMD) by the name of laser depositing welding (LDW). With this technique, new material is added to a pre-manufactured carrier material. Ford is planning to add a friction ring to the brake discs using this process. In this way, the manufacturer claims, the positive mechanical characteristics of the disc are preserved, while the friction ring has high thermal stability and is abrasion-resistant. The automobile company is hoping to be able to reduce the weight of the brake discs by up to 50% in this way.