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Evaluating Brake Pads with Tribology

Importance of Evaluating Break Pad Performance

Brake pads are composites., a material made up of multiple ingredients, that must be able to satisfy a large number of safety requirements. Ideal brake pads have high coefficient of friction (COF), low wear rate, minimal noise, and remain reliable under varying environments. To ensure the quality of brake pads are able to satisfy their requirements, tribology testing can be used to identify critical specifications.

The importance of the reliability of brake pads is placed very high; the safety of passengers should never be neglected. Therefore, it is key to replicate operating conditions and identify possible points of failure.
With the Nanovea Tribometer, a constant load is applied between a pin, ball, or flat and a constantly moving counter material. The friction between the two material is collected with a stiff load cell, allowing the collection of material properties at different loads and speeds and tested in high temperature, corrosive, or liquid environments.

Measurement Objective

In this study, the coefficient of friction of the brake pads were studied under a continuously increasing temperature environment from room temperature to 700°C. The environmental temperature was raised in-situ until noticeable failure of the brake pad was observed. A thermocouple was attached to the backside of the pin to measure the temperature near the sliding interface.

Test Procedure and Procedures

Results and Discussion

This study focuses mainly on the temperature at which brake pads start to fail. The COF obtained do not represent real-life values; the pin material is not the same as brake rotors. It should also be noted that the temperature data collected is the temperature of the pin and not the sliding interface temperature


At the start of the test (room temperature), the COF between the SS440C pin and brake pad gave a consistent value of approximately 0.2. As the temperature increased, the COF steadily increased and peaked at a value of 0.26 near 350°C. Past 390°C, the COF quickly starts decreasing. The COF began to increase back to 0.2 at 450°C but starts decreasing to a value of 0.05 shortly after.

The temperature at which the brake pads consistently failed is identified at temperatures above 500°C. Past this temperature, the COF was no longer able to retain the starting COF of 0.2.


The brake pads have shown consistent failure at a temperature past 500°C. Its COF of 0.2 slowly rises to a value of 0.26 before dropping down to 0.05 at the end of the test (580°C). The difference between 0.05 and 0.2 is a factor of 4. This means that the normal force at 580°C must be four times greater than at room temperature to achieve the same stopping force!

While not included in this study, the Nanovea Tribometer is also able to conduct testing to observe another important property of brake pads: wear rate. By utilizing our 3D non-contact profilometers, the volume of the wear track can be obtained to calculate how quickly samples wear. Wear testing can be conducted with the Nanovea Tribometer under different test conditions and environments to best simulate operating conditions.


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