1. Home > 
  2. Products and Technologies > 
  3. Motor Sports > 
  4. Design award-winning NR22 brake caliper for endurance racing

Products and Technologies menu

Design award-winning
brake caliper

NR22 brake caliper for endurance racing

Akebono's NR22 brake caliper for endurance racing has received the FY2022 Good Design Award (organized by Japan Institute of Design Promotion). This is the first Good Design Award to be won by an automobile brake caliper.*1 This brake caliper was also selected as a Finalist in the International Design Excellence Awards 2022 (organized by the Industrial Designers Society of America), said to be the most prestigious design award in the world.

The award-winning NR22 is a disc brake caliper for endurance racing that pursues an excellent balance between weight reduction and high durability. With a shape optimized by structural analysis, the caliper body component achieves a 7%*2 reduction in weight, while also achieving high durability, thereby realizing directness of brake operation. With a mirror-finish surface, the brake caliper is protected from radiant heat and can continue providing drivers with a stable brake feeling even under the high-temperature conditions found during endurance races that continue over long periods of time.

Reduction of automobile weight is a key element that influences such factors as dynamic performance and fuel consumption. For brake calipers used in racing, high durability is required as well as reduced weight. Achieving a balance between these at a high level will also contribute to enhancement of driver feeling.

This expertise is based on technology Akebono has cultivated in motor sports including Formula 1 and World Endurance Championships and has been put to effective use in creating a new method of structural analysis that works to achieve an excellent balance between durability and lightness of weight while also realizing a caliper body form styled according to the functional beauty of the racing car.

*1 Based on an in-house study

*2 Comparison with previous Akebono products

Features of NR22 brake caliper for endurance racing

1. Hydraulic flow path also used as strength member in cross-shaped rib structure that achieves an excellent balance between weight reduction and high durability

The shape is optimized using a newly devised method of structural analysis, and the ribs that cross above the cylinders function as more than just strength members. The rib interiors also serve as hydraulic flow paths, thereby efficiently achieving an excellent balance between weight reduction and high rigidity.

2. Mirror-finish plating prevents temperature rise from radiant heat and enhances heat resistance

By applying a mirror-finish plating to the surface, the caliper body is protected from temperature increase due to radiant heat. In addition to enabling use under high temperatures, this finish highlights the gently curved surfaces and sharp ridges, enhancing the design quality of the product exterior.

3. Optimal piston placement brings out 100% brake pad performance

The size and placement of each piston are optimized by means of proprietary technology for brake pad surface pressure analysis. This helps prevent uneven wear of brake pads and realizes both longer brake pad life and stable brake feeling in the prolonged harsh operating environment of endurance races.

About Design Awards

Good Design Award

The Good Design Products Selection System established in 1957 is carried on in this activity for evaluating and promoting design that represents Japan. Large numbers of corporations and organizations inside and outside Japan take part in this global design award program, which has been conducted every year both as a way to raise the quality of life and to apply design to solutions for issues and themes faced by society. The G Mark symbol of Good Design Award winners has become widely familiar as a mark of superior design.

Evaluation Comments by Good Design Award Judging Committee Members

The brake caliper is a component of the brake system that has tended to become visually exposed in recent years with the increase in tire and wheel diameter and the use of thinner spokes. The NR22 has pursued the utmost in functional performance under the demanding conditions of automobile endurance races, and in doing so has realized a beautiful form that is refined in addition to being well-organized and modern in appearance. This must be helping to enhance the brand image of Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd., a company that puts safety first.

International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)

Established in 1980, these design awards are organized by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA). They are ranked with the iF Design Award and the Red Dot Design Award, and together these three are considered the greatest design awards in the world. When it comes to product design, the IDEA awards are said to be the world's most prestigious award. Awards are given in 20 categories, including Automotive & Transportation, and entries are judged in terms of design innovation, user experience (UX), benefit to the customer, benefit to society, and appropriate aesthetics.

Comments on Receiving Design Award

Connecting Design to Business Growth - Junichi Nogiwa (Chief Engineer, AAE, Research & Development Division)

Design is one of key element for high performance brakes. At akebono, we have been developing, designing, and delivering brakes for use in F1 as the official supplier of the McLaren Team since 2007. We put great care into all aspects, from structure to materials and surface processing, achieving exhaustive lightweighting, high rigidity, superior cooling, dependability, and stable performance to an extremely high level. From the beginning, the development and design team has paid particular attention, not only to the performance of racing brakes, but also to their design as well. This mindset continues to this day. One of the slogans the team used when we were first starting out was to have a “Challenge Spirit (Continue to take on challenges)”. This spirit is what led us to apply for the Design Award.

We hope that winning the Award will appeal to our customers and help us expand our business in terms of acquiring new high-performance brake business. We are also simultaneously developing a process to efficiently integrate function and design. Although the process development is still a work in progress, we hope to develop products that perform well and look good so that it’s something Akebono can be recognized for by customers.

Building Design Process - Takefumi Morio (Manager, Advanced Research & Development Section AAE, Research & Development Division)

The positive and negative outcomes of a technical design can be judged quantitatively, but this is difficult to do for artistic design. So, I am happy that we were able to have results in the form of a Design Award.

As a technical designer, I have been involved in various aspects of brake development and design. From the perspective of an engineer, a big challenge has been how to effectively utilize designers. We cannot use designs that have an adverse effect on performance. That is why I had our designer learn engineering analysis tools. For instance, racing brakes must push the utmost limits of weight reduction while still maintaining high rigidity. I figured it would be faster to have the designer learn how to determine for themselves what kind of effect the shapes they make have on weight and rigidity.

The NR22 was born through this process. And while we have added design elements, these have not compromised performance aspects, such as lightweightness and rigidity, in the slightest. Hereafter, I want to continue to construct our design process, and reach for the heights of artistic design.

Combining Function and Design, and Constructing a Method of Analysis for Optimizing Structure - Tsuyoshi Suzuki (Design & Analysis, Advanced Research & Development Section AAE, Research & Development Division)

This time, the story of development starts with our engineers and designers coming together to work in tandem on creating racing brakes that combine function and design. The biggest challenge was how we should proceed, and this was something we struggled with. In the end, we settled on a method in which I created the basic shape as an engineer, and then the designer added artistic design elements.

I designed the basic shape of the N22 using topology optimization, which is a structural optimization technique. Topology optimization is a simulation technology that suggests the optimal shape based on conditions analyzed by computer. The shape changes depending on which conditions you set, so the difficult point in utilizing it is that you need to set suitable conditions.

I had used topology analysis before, but it was only to use the analysis results as a reference for technical design. Utilizing these results directly, and applying various creative techniques to the analysis conditions to create the shape turned out to be very fruitful. This technique is now being used in the development of mass-produced brakes as well.

Striving for a Design to Represent akebono - Asami Madambashi (Designer, Advanced Research & Development Section AAE, Research & Development Division)

As a designer, one of my ambitions is to win Design Awards, so I am very happy to receive this Award. Winning this Award is also an opportunity for us to revisit how we develop brake designs going forward.

This time, since function is the highest priority of a caliper for racing, the big challenge was in figuring out how many artistic design elements could be added without compromising performance. This is because if the artistic design elements are nothing more than decoration, then they will adversely affect performance. Our team came together to consider a structure that would be both functional and artistic, and this is the design we were able to come up with in the end.

Since the NR22 is made through machining, I had a lot of freedom for artistic design. Next, I hope to propose designs not just for machined caliper, but for cast products aimed at mass production, and implement brake designs that come to represent akebono.

Relevant Information

How Brakes Work
Akebono Corporate Video