Disc brake

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The disc brake or disk brake is a device for slowing or stopping the rotation of a wheel while it is in motion. A brake disc (or rotor in U.S. English) is usually made of cast iron, but may in some cases be made of composites such as reinforced carbon-carbon or ceramic-matrix composites. This is connected to the wheel and/or the axle. To stop the wheel, friction material in the form of brake pads (mounted on a device called a brake caliper) is forced mechanically, hydraulically, pneumatically or electromagnetically against both sides of the disc. Friction causes the disc and attached wheel to slow or stop. Brakes convert motion to heat, and if the brakes get too hot, they become less effective, a phenomenon known as brake fade. However, it is rare to heat a disc brake system enough to result in brake fade.

Contents

History

Disc-style brakes development and use began in England in the 1890s. The first caliper-type automobile disc brake was patented by Frederick William Lanchester in his Birmingham, UK factory in 1902 and used successfully on Lanchester cars. However, the limited choice of metals in this period, meant that he had to use copper as the braking medium acting on the disc. The poor state of the roads at this time, no more than dusty, rough tracks, meant that the copper wore quickly making the disc brake system non-viable (as recorded in The Lanchester Legacy). It took another half century for his innovation to be widely adopted.

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