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January 28, 2016

Coming Soon: Superlight Brake Drums

Upcoming Gunite brake drums will
be composite aluminum and metal matrix.
Not available today, but in 18 to 24 months we’ll see a new technology from Accuride for its Gunite brand brake drums that could save 100 pounds per axle – 300 pounds for a truck tractor or heavy-duty truck. That huge weight savings comes from a metal matrix composite (MMC) technology that provides the friction wear surface in an aluminum drum.

MMC technology was acquired in 2015 from Century 3+, a Traverse City, Michigan -based technology company. From its highly diverse (yet largely unknown) Century product range, the Century 3+ division conducts materials research for Department of Defense, which includes MMC, providing lightweight brake drums for tactical vehicles.

Accuride is commercializing the process as an integral part of its component lightweighting initiatives to help the commercial vehicle industry comply with upcoming Phase II greenhouse gas regulations posed by the U.S. EPA.

At the announcement, made at the Heavy Duty Aftermarket Week in Las Vegas late January, Accuride President and CEO Rick Dauch explained the central role the MMC technology plays in the company’s research and development of advanced lightweight Gunite brake drums and wheel end components.

“Over the past few years, we have invested in processes and technologies that help our customers remain competitive and compliant,” Dauch said.

The expected benefits of the lightweight Gunite MMC brake drum currently in development include:
• Significant weight reduction
• Longer product life
• Reduced stopping distance
• Improved performance
• Increased payload

Accuride’s MMC technology combines highly-engineered cast aluminum with a selectively reinforced MMC wear surface to form a durable and resilient yet lightweight patent protected brake drum. At approximately 61 pounds, the patent-protected MMC aluminum brake drum is capable of delivering significant weight savings.

The lightweight MMC brake drum also has demonstrated more rapid heat dissipation, improved braking performance and a longer lifespan than traditional cast drums, said the company.

Wheel Technology Steps Up

At the same time as the Gunite announcement, Accuride introduced a new steel technology for a new wheel product that should greatly increase life to refurbishment. Called the EverSteel wheel, Accuride says the new material and coating process should delay the onset of corrosion for up to eight years.

In the introduction, the company estimated each EverSteel wheel could save customers about $105 in wheel refinishing and maintenance costs, as well as the downtime associated with taking the wheels out of service. 

 “Corrosion is an ongoing and costly issue for fleets working in harsh operating environments across North America,” said Dauch. “Never before have steel wheels received warranted corrosion protection like that offered by our EverSteel technology. It sets a new standard of performance and durability, and will enable our fleet customers to achieve significant savings in wheel refinishing costs and the associated downtime.” 

EverSteel wheels employ a four-step treatment process. First, EverSteel metal surface treatment is applied to the bare steel to protect it from harsh daily wear and tear. This is followed by a zinc phosphate pre-treatment that prepares the metal for maximum adhesion. Then an enhanced cathodic epoxy electrocoat optimized for sharp-edge and overall corrosion protection is applied. And finally, Accuride’s Steel Armor premium powder top coat is applied.

The technology is available initially on two Accuride 22.5 x 8.25 steel wheels: the 50408 (two hand hole) and 50487 (five hand hole). Accuride said these would be available for customers February 1.

Accuride also debuted two new aluminum wheels the company says will provide a 5 percent to 7 percent weight savings. The new aluminum wheels are both standard type 22.5 x 9.00 and will be available April 1.

Specifications for the new wheels:
·         41730 wheel – replaces previous part number 29730 and features a reduced weight of 4 pounds (total weight per wheel: 58 pounds)
·         41012 wheel – replaces previous part number 40012 and features a reduced weight of 3 pounds (total weight per wheel: 51 pounds)


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