What You Need to Know About Water Cooled Brakes


In any industrial application, stopping is one-half of the main functioning elements, starting is the other half. It’s no surprise that stopping rotations is as important as getting them initiated in the first place, especially in applications where continuous movement can cause irreversible damage. While effective stopping power can be achieved with heavy duty brakes, possibly paired with high torque clutches, the issue of overheating still remains.

Rewinding everyone’s brains to middle school science class, recall the lesson about friction. When two high-friction surfaces come into contact with one another, the force between the two surfaces hinders movement altogether. That’s the watered-down version of how brakes work. However, also recall that friction causes a high amount of heat. Unfortunately, too much heat in a braking application can be as destructive as not having the braking system at all. That’s where water cooled brakes come into play.

What are water cooled brakes?

Inherently self-explanatory, water cooled brakes are brakes that are water cooled (crazy, right?). Broken down, water cooled braking systems work by spraying, or misting, water on the brakes, usually on the vanes. The water will help cool the brakes and prevent them from overheating. Brakes that overheat could cause severe problems with the individual components of the brake mechanism itself, which could compromise the integrity of the entire machine and the application it’s being used for. These brakes are perfect for high-thermal loads, with a combination of internal water flow and copper wear plates that allow for a greater dissipation of heat.

Why you want them

Professionally manufactured industrial clutch and brake systems are built to withstand the various stresses of the application. Specific to high thermal loads with continuous slip tensioning, brakes are built with a water cooling function. Even though the concept of these brakes seems simple enough, it shouldn’t be approached as such. These brakes handle the engagement and disengagement of high-powered industrial machinery, and shouldn’t be considered a “simple” addition. Likewise, trying to replicate the outcome with a less-refined process (such as spraying the component with a hose, for example) could produce undesired results. Rapid cooling will cause damage to the brakes, specifically in the form of cracking.

The world of braking is complex and requires the knowledge and experience of a manufacturer who understands the requirements of your application. For example, you’d want someone who knew that steer axle brakes have grown from 15×4 to 16 1/2×5 in order to meet 121 stopping requirements, while drive-axle brakes are still 16 1/2x7s. In any application, the right components mean getting the job done correctly.


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