Alcon Brakes – specialist design and state-of-the-art testing regimes key to producing ultra-high performance braking systems

Alcon, winner of the prestigious MIA Business of the Year Award 2018, is a designer and manufacturer of ultra-high quality brake, clutch and other automotive components.  With wide-ranging clients internationally, each with bespoke, specialist requirements, Alcon’s expertise ranges from the production of tiny brake-by-wire controllers for Formula E racing cars to high-strength callipers required to stop 35 tonnes of armoured vehicle.

Looking specifically at the Defence market, brake discs and calipers are often procured from separate companies; a system that fails to acknowledge the critical importance of the relationship between these two components.  Separation in the design of the two can, not only lead to reduced performance, but also conflicts between supplier and customer.  Where Alcon excel is the simultaneous design and development of caliper and disc, creating a unified system.  With refinements in materials, design and specification of caliper, pad and disc as a system, Alcon succeed in reducing disc temperatures, and thus the potential for brake failure, as well as cutting down the noise produced by their braking systems.

Extensive testing regimes have proven that friction performance and stability is best achieved through specific combinations of pad and disc materials.  Alcon’s engineers create a design around their client’s specification, then carry out Finite Element Analysis to simulate high loads and temperatures.  As well as making sure that the disc will not fail, this detailed analysis is also used to reduce disc coning and deflection to acceptable levels.  Alcon’s discs are twin-turned to reduce DTV (disc thickness variation) at their latest, high-tech machining centres.

Alcon carry out specific dynamometer tests for strength, cracking and deflection, as well as friction performance, with a new NVH dynamometer allowing their R&D team to detect, measure and solve brake noise and vibrations during the development phase of a new product. The dynamometer utilises state-of-the-art technology to closely simulate actual operating conditions.  The test chamber environment is highly regulated; with temperatures ranging from 20°C – 50°C and humidity from 10 to 95 percent. The dynamometer also features low speed / stationary operation and wet test operation.  Alcon has one of only 2 NVH dynamometers in the UK, and when not in use for Alcon’s own research, they make the test facility available to OEMs requiring its services.

The common factor in everything that Alcon does is their no-compromise approach to engineering excellence.  As required, costs can be reduced through tooling investment for higher volume programmes. However, Alcon are also able to support low volume programmes without tooling investment through their range of standard castings; these can have a billet-machined bell bolted to them to make a bespoke design with integral mounting bell.

Already well-established in the defence sector, Alcon have designed, manufactured and delivered bespoke braking solutions for some of the world’s leading Special Forces and armoured vehicle manufacturers, including Patria, Supacat, BAe, Ricardo and Jankel.  From armoured SUVs to the largest military combat vehicles, their brake solutions are designed and built to the highest specification, developed to withstand the harshest and most demanding of environments encountered on the battlefield, whilst providing exceptional braking performance and reliability. They have off-the-shelf solutions available for a range of brake upgrades or, with their state-of-the-art design and testing capabilities, can design a bespoke solution to absolutely meet the most demanding of needs.


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