Top 10 FAQs on Ceramic brakes, pads and Carbon ceramic material

1. What are Ceramic brake pads? 

Ceramic brake systems in automotive applications do not generally use brake pads made in ceramic material. A ceramic brake pad is too harsh and produces excessive wear, so in fact brake pads used with ceramic brake discs are made from organic compounds similar to those used with traditional iron brake discs. However, as the frictional and thermal properties of iron and ceramic discs are significantly different it is important to use a brake pad compound that has been specifically developed for ceramic brake discs such as the Pagid RSC1. Some high performance brake pads, designed for extreme track use, such as the Pagid RS29 can be used with both iron and ceramic discs.

2. Why would you use Ceramic brake pads?

Although ceramic material is not generally used for automotive brake pads, they are used in other areas such as aircraft and rail where the relative harshness is suited to the applications.

3. Why Carbon-Ceramic?

Weight savings of up to 70%
Improved handling and driveability
Improved NVH (less noise, vibration and harshness)
Improved performance (in both wet and dry conditions)
Reduced brake wear – giving increased life
Corrosion Free
Less brake dust

4. Which brake pads should you use with Ceramic discs?

Due to the different frictional and thermal properties of iron and ceramic discs it is important to use a brake pad compound that has been specifically developed for ceramic brake discs such as the Pagid RSC1. Some high performance brake pads, designed for extreme track use, such as the Pagid RS29 can be used with both iron and ceramic discs.

5. How do you make a Carbon Ceramic disc?

The Carbon Ceramic brakes fitted as standard on many high performance vehicles are constructed in one of two ways – either a core of ceramic material reinforced with chopped carbon fibre with an additional ceramic layer on the friction surface or simply the core of ceramic material with chopped carbon fibre and no outer friction layer. Surface Transforms use a different process, utilising continuous carbon fibre to produce a carbon-carbon which is then infilitrated with carbon silicide before being machined to suit the application

6. What are ‘next-generation’ Carbon Ceramic brakes?

What are the benefits of a Carbon Ceramic disk over a traditional iron disk? Whilst the carbon-ceramic discs you find on production road cars use discontinuous (chopped) carbon fibre, ST’s next-generation technology interweaves continuous carbon fibre to form a 3D multi-directional matrix which has significant benefits over traditional carbon-ceramic products:

Stronger and more durable product - lower weight construction
3 x heat conductivity - reduces brake temperature and improves performance
Can be refurbished when traditional product is thrown away

These attributes make ST’s product ideally suited for the demanding nature of track days, providing ultimate performance for drivers that want to take their high performance road car on track and drive home afterwards.

7. Why not use a brake made from Carbon only?

Carbon-Carbon is recognised as the optimum brake material and is used in F1, but the brake performance it provides is too extreme for everyday use. Carbon brakes only work effectively at elevated temperatures and do not provide sufficient or consistent levels of friction at low temperatures, therefore making them unsuitable for normal road car use. Carbon Ceramic brakes have many of the benefits of Carbon-Carbon brakes, such as high performance and low weight, but also provide consistent braking throughout the range of everday temperatures.

8. Is brake-bedding important and what does it mean?

In order for a brake system to work optimally, the brake disc and pads must be properly bedded-in. Bedding-in, also called breaking-in or conditioning, is the process of depositing an even layer of brake pad material, also called the transfer layer, on the friction face of the brake disc (the surface between the pad and disc).
 
Bedding-in consists of heating a brake system to its operating temperature to allow the formation of the transfer layer and needs to be done in a controlled way to avoid uneven deposition, which is the number one cause of NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness). This procedure is repeated in order to ensure that the entire friction face is evenly covered with brake pad material with cooling periods in between each heating cycle.
 
A certain amount of the pad-bedding process can be done off-line (pre-bedding) without the specific discs for that vehicle, this reduces the amount of in-vehicle bedding required. So it is advisable when replacing your brake discs and pads to fit pre-bedded pads if available for your vehicle.

9. What is the life of Carbon Ceramic brakes?

There is a general perception that Carbon Ceramic brakes can last the lifetime of a vehicle, however in practice this is rarely true. The Carbon Ceramic brakes fitted as standard on many high performance vehicles are not designed for the kind of driving that they may be subjected to, particularly if you take your car on track days. Many drivers have been disappointed to be told their carbon ceramic discs need replacing after only a few track sessions, and a replacement set of discs can cost over £10,000. ST’s next-generation carbon ceramic brake discs are designed for performance driving and the track day enthusiast. Due to their increased durability and reduced operating temperature they are ideal for regular track use, whilst still performing on the road. Even if your discs become worn, then ST offer a refurbishment process which can return your discs to their new condition, up to 5 times!

10. Which production vehicles are currently fitted with Carbon Ceramic brakes?

PORSCHE: Turbo, GT2, GT3
AUDI: R8 (V10), Q7
BUGATTI: Veyron
BENTLEY: GT Continental
LAMBORGHINI: Gallardo, Murcielago
MERCEDES: AMG SLS, CLS
FERRARI: FF, 599, 458 Italia, California, F430 Scuderia, Scaglietti, 360 Challenge stradale, Enzo, Challenge, FXX
MASERATI: Granturismo Mc Stradale
PAGANI ZONDA: C8
ASTON MARTIN: One-77, V12 Vantage, Virage, DBS
MCLAREN: SLR, MP4-12C, P1
GM CORVETTE: ZR1
KOENIGSEGG: CCX, Agera R, Agera RS, One:1, Regera