Developers are showcasing an aluminum brake drum for trucks that weighs nearly half as much as its cast-iron equivalent.
Army researchers, in conjunction with the Michigan-based company Century Inc., produced the drum, which would reduce the weight of an Army Stryker vehicle by about 250 pounds, according to Jim McManus, Century’s business development manager. It’s made from aluminum alloys and ceramics, and it comes at a time when combat-vehicle makers are scrambling to shed ounces from their trucks to meet the military’s stringent weight requirements.
“The theory behind the technology is to come up with ways to use lighter-weight metal alloys where normally heavier cast-iron metal would be used,” McManus says. The technology, he adds, could be a light-weight replacement for any cast-iron part that’s exposed to lots of wear and tear.
Century has been working with the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center for the past four years to make high-quality mixtures of alloys and ceramics. Because of the complex manufacturing process, alloys often have flaws that render much of their maker’s output unusable. Century overcame this by creating a machine that continuously expels the raw material and shapes it using a unique heat-and-pressure system, McManus says.
The brake drum also has the potential to last longer than traditional drums because the aluminum alloy dissipates heat at a greater rate than cast iron, says McManus. “Not only do you have lighter weight, but you also have the potential for a life-cycle increase,” he adds.