Tripoli Is Winning New Markets in Automotive Brakes and Clutches

Tripoli, the mildly abrasive mineral which has long been a preferred polisher and buffer for decorative metals, is winning new markets in the highly competitive automotive OEM and aftermarket. More and more automotive friction engineers are discovering they can improve the friction characteristics, improve braking performance and save money too.

The industry is being spurred by federal regulations which call for reformulation to non-asbestos automotive products, including brakes, by 1996. Currently in the U.S., between 50% and 60% of the OEM brakes for cars and trucks are non-asbestos, with no more than a third non-asbestos in the less stringently regulated aftermarket.

Because the potential for Tripoli in both markets over the next five years is enormous, American Tripoli Company’s parent, NYCO Minerals, Inc., has obtained the services of a nationally recognized friction expert to develop new compounding formulations for both Tripoli and wollastonite.

These new formulations – as well as the ones currently used -present a challenge to both NYCO-American Tripoli and their customers. Friction engineers are well aware that all the power developed by new engines must be controlled by braking and clutching devices, and the engineering involved in those devices can be as complex and as challenging as that which goes into the engines themselves.
The brake materials compounder is faced with two conflicting requirements:

  1. He needs a material sufficiently rough and abrasive to provide good friction characteristics, and
  2. A material which will not be too “aggressive” in wearing out the metal surfaces upon which the brake block or pad makes contact to slow the wheel, engine, etc.
In addition, the brake block or pad must have high heat stability to resist “fade” and meet other dimensional requirements.

NYCO is already heavily involved in the friction market with its wollastonite and WOLLASTOKUP® products. Tripoli is now beginning to find a place in these formulations both as:

  1. A scouring agent, and
  2. A friction control agent.

Tripoli has long been known in the metals finishing business as a mineral of controlled “aggressiveness” to buff or “color” metal to a very high finish (shine). It does so with a minimal amount of metal wear. This very property is ideal in friction compounds. It permits the compound to scrub or scour the metal surfaces, keeping them clean and polished without scoring, thereby providing a fresh solid surface upon which the pad or block can act.

At the same time, its use with more expensive friction agents such as aluminum oxide can

  1. Lower costs
  2. “Extend” the aluminum oxide (or other expensive friction materials) to provide controlled distribution through the block itself, and
  3. Because it has a “grit” of its own, acts as a friction agent.