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Initiatives at the Design and Development Stage

Developing Products Free of Environmentally Hazardous Substances

In North America, regulations on environmentally hazardous substances have been tightened due to anxiety over the impact of brake dust on the ecosystems of rivers and gulfs.

In response, Akebono is striving to develop technologies that reduce the volume of brake dust generated from the use of friction materials while extending the product life of brake pads.

Also, Akebono promotes the development of products with a lower environmentally hazardous substance content. In accordance with in-house guidelines, which set forth stricter regulations on brake raw materials than required by law, Akebono painstakingly examines these materials' possible impact on the environment and work environment even from the product design and development stages.

Developing Proprietary Materials

Further efforts are under way to create more proprietary materials

Further efforts are under way to
create more proprietary materials

The theme of one development project carried out at Akebono Research & Development Centre was creating a proprietary brake constituent that would improve the performance of friction materials at high temperature ranges. Under this project, we developed a new solid lubricant material with a thermal decomposition temperature of around 800°C, which is higher than that of any similar material. Moreover, the new material contributed to superior friction performance as well as improved braking performance (µ) and stability by helping raise seizure resistance to approximately 30% above that of conventional materials. This accomplishment enabled Akebono to supply friction materials with less braking noise and greater durability for use in the McLaren P1TM ultra-high performance road car on a mass-production basis. The incorporation of this new material also helps prolong the product life of brake pads, contributing to resource savings.

Moving forward, Akebono is striving to develop proprietary materials with the aim of differentiating itself and securing its competitive edge.

FNC Finished Rotors

FNC Finished Rotors

FNC Finished Rotors

Akebono supplies rotors for trucks produced by U.S.-based General Motors Company. These rotors are finished using the ferritic nitrocarburizing (FNC) process and thus deliver superior braking performance as well as low noise and vibration while boasting an industry-leading product life, which, in turn, contributes to resource savings. Moreover, since FNC finishing provides greater abrasion resistance, it also reduces the generation of dust, which not only often mars the appearance of wheels, but poses an environmental burden.

Satisfying U.S. Regulations on Chemicals Used in Brake Friction Materials

A copper-free brake pad (prototype pictured)

A copper-free brake pad
(prototype pictured)

In 2014, new regulations were enforced in California and the state of Washington, the United States, setting limits on copper and other specified substance content in brake pads, linings and friction materials produced on and after January 1, 2014. The regulations are intended to prevent the impact of such substances on ecosystems in rivers and oceans. Moreover, the regulations oblige manufacturers to label their pads and linings using Friction Materials Edge Code Markings that indicate compliance.

In response, a number of Akebono's business units, including its U.S., Japanese and Asian production bases that manufacture friction materials destined for the American market, as well as development, quality assurance, sales and production engineering sections worldwide, have striven to ensure compliance with these requirements through across-the-board collaboration. Looking ahead, we will painstakingly continue to implement measures aimed at complying with state laws and other regulations, such as package labeling statutes.

Development of New Brakes for Greater Fuel Efficiency

We are developing a new automobile braking system that improves fuel efficiency by weight savings. In addition, we aim to contribute to resource savings by reducing the number of parts.

Arrow indicates the electro-mechanical actuator

Arrow indicates
the electro-mechanical actuator

■Electro-Mechanical Brakes

This new brake system employs an electric operating mechanism to press down the disc brake pads. The system helps to improve fuel efficiency by saving weight. Moreover, this system can contribute to environmental preservation by eliminating use of hydraulic brake fluid, which must be properly disposed of whenever repairs are made.

Low Drag Caliper

Low Drag Caliper

■Low Drag Caliper

In a conventional disc brake there is always slight contact In a conventional disc brake there is always slight contact between the brake pads and the rotor, even when the brakes are released. This creates rotational resistance of the rotor and negatively affects fuel economy. Also, if the gap between the rotor and pad alters, however subtle the change, it affects how far the pedal must travel to initiate braking. This reduces driver confidence. The low drag caliper incorporates specially designed components to ensure that the pad to rotor gap is precisely maintained at the micron level. In this way, brake drag is reduced, contributing to improved fuel economy.

Technology to Control Noise and Vibration

Technology to Control Noise and Vibration

When it comes to making brakes, finding ways to control the noise and vibrations that may make the driving experience unpleasant for the end-user is of the utmost importance. Akebono pays particular attention to what it calls NVH (noise, vibration and harshness, or vibrations caused by unevenness inroad surfaces), which makes for a less pleasant braking experience. Noise itself refers to the sound generated when vibration caused by the friction between the pads and rotors is transmitted through the calipers and resonates throughout the brake.

Noise and vibration are affected by many factors, including driving conditions, speed, brake temperature, quality of component materials, configuration of the parts and rotor speed. Akebono uses simulations of various conditions to attempt to predict noise and vibration. This enables the Company to predict noise from the design stage and thus allows the number of prototype needed for testing to be decreased, contributing to both energy and resource savings.

Ceaseless Pursuit to Make Brake Components as Light as Possible

Manufacturing equipment that adjusts at the tenth of a millimeter level of fineness

Manufacturing equipment that adjusts at
the tenth of a millimeter level of fineness

Since 2007, Akebono has been supplying its brake systems to the “McLaren Mercedes” Formula One racing team. To satisfy McLaren's requirements, Akebono has worked to enhance its brakes' reliability and stability to the greatest possible extent and, to this end, has developed technologies that improved the structure, materials, surface finishing and other aspects of its products.

Striving to develop competitive brakes for use in Formula One, FIA World Endurance Championship and other prestigious motorsports, Akebono will continue to achieve technological breakthroughs that contribute to the creation of products for mass production. For example, our weight-saving technologies will help enhance fuel efficiency and thereby contribute to lower energy consumption for automobiles. Furthermore, by participating in endurance racing, we will advance technologies for the greater wear performance of brakes in heavily loaded conditions. This will, in turn, help us create products with a longer life while helping to save resources.

In addition, Akebono is developing copper-free brake pads for use in high-performance vehicles in response to U.S. regulations. Looking ahead, we will launch brake pads that simultaneously achieve superior performance and environmental-friendliness for mass-produced vehicles. Moreover, we will go on to supply more environmentally friendly products even in the field of high performance vehicles.

Upgrading Ai-Ring to Secure Competitiveness in the Global Market

Conceptual map laying out the functions of the new Ai-Ring

Conceptual map laying out
the functions of the new Ai-Ring

Ai-Ring

Ai-Ring

Ai-Ring is one of the largest test courses to be operated by an automotive parts manufacturer in Japan. The facility enables various types of brake testing using actual vehicles, such as high-speed braking tests. A new Ai-Ring is scheduled for completion in October 2016. The plans for the facility include expanding various type of test course, such as a new winding road, rough roads, and slopes. We will use these courses to further enhance the performance and quality of our products for high-performance vehicles, and to bolster our development of electro-mechanical brakes. We also plan to increase our dyno testing facilities (brake testing machines) to help ensure safety as a top priority from the design stage. This will enable us to conduct comprehensive brake testing from bench testing, through dyno testing, to vehicle testing in a single facility. Akebono will also shorten development lead times by improving its vehicle testing capabilities and enhancing its NVH* analysis and simulation technologies. With the new facility we aim to establish a global development structure that will enhance our R&D competitiveness. At the same time, Ai-Ring will help us to integrate testing techniques employed at R&D bases worldwide while providing a place for training designers and engineers who will be able to propose their own ideas as brake experts.

  • * NVH: Noise vibration harshness

Akebono Receives Award in the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers Medal for New Technology

Brake system for McLaren P1

Brake system for McLaren P1TM

For achievement in the "development and mass production of high-performance brakes for road cars" Akebono was awarded the FY2015 Japan Society of Mechanical Engineers (JSME) Medal for New Technology. The brake systems are used in the ultra-high performance road car “P1TM” made by the U.K. automaker McLaren.

Established in 1958 with the aims of encouraging research activities and development of mechanical engineering in Japan, the JSME Medal has been presented annually to outstanding papers, technologies and products. In awarding the medal, the judges recognized Akebono's high achievement in “stability when braking at ultra-high speed and high temperature levels,” “significant weight reduction,” and “comfortable braking in city driving.”

This is the second time in 34 years that Akebono has received the award, the previous time being in 1982.