Solutions in Motion™

    [VIDEO] How to Properly Size and Select a Caliper Disc Brake

    Posted by Troy Branham on May 25 ,2021

    Caliper disc brakes come in many sizes and types, depending on your needs. W.C. Branham is proud to offer a wide range of industrial and vehicular caliper disc brakes – more than 300 possible model configurations. From active pneumatic and active hydraulic to lever mechanical actuated and spring applied brakes, you can customize disc brakes for your application. The key to success is proper sizing.

    Industrial caliper brakes can provide consistent control of web tension or they can provide emergency stopping power. Sizing these brakes can be complex, however, because you have to account for multiple application-specific variables.

    Dynamic Stopping

    The amount of torque required for a dynamic stopping application depends on the weight of rotation mass, the radius of gyration dependent on the shape of the mass, RPM, and stopping time. Here’s a cheat sheet you can use for sizing spring-applied brakes. Once you know the amount of torque needed, check the tangential force of the caliper brake model you’re considering. Multiply that by the braking radius for the desired disc diameter, to see if this brake and disc combination can meet your torque requirement.

    Frequent Stopping

    Frequent stops accelerate wear and tear, so it is crucial that the brake disc combination you choose can adequately dissipate the heat. Friction pad wear life is also an important performance factor, so be sure the friction material lining and service life are adequate for your application.

    Static Holding

    Caliper disc brake sizing for static hold applications are comparatively easy. All you need to know is the amount of torque to be held, then select a brake and disc combination that can handle that much torque.


    The purpose of the brakes in these applications is to provide a constant torque to rotating mass to apply tension in material on that roll. Similar to a frequent stopping application, since they are continuous duty, we want to make sure that we calculate the energy generation and the heat dissipation.

    We’ve Made It Easy for You to Size Caliper Disc Brakes



    You don't have to know or look up all the data and formulas required to complete these calculations. We’ve provided everything you need, right in this handy downloadable PDF. It’s a step-by-step guide to figuring the amount of braking torque required, so you can select the most efficient and cost-effective brake and disc diameter package for your application. Steps include:

    • Calculating braking torque for applications that require stopping within a specific amount of time. You'll figure BTUs per stop to determine heat generation and dissipation, then determine BTUs per hour, then determine the amount of exposed disc area needed to dissipate the heat.

    • Calculating braking torque for applications that provide tensioning or constant drag. You'll figure BTUs per hour, then the heat dissipation for your tensioning application.

    • Calculating dynamic or parking braking torque. You'll determine heat generation and dissipation and the amount of BTUs per hour generated, then determine the minimum amount of exposed disc area needed to dissipate the heat.

    • Calculating the amount of life in stops for one or multiple brakes. You'll figure horsepower hours per stop, then determine the life in stops.

    Note that disc temperature should not exceed 300o F, to ensure longest service life. The amount of heat a disc dissipates per hour at any given temperature greater than ambient is considered to be directly proportional to the amount of exposed area on the disc. Therefore, disc thickness should be as small as possible. Standard is either 5/32" or 1/4".

    Not sure about your calculations or conclusions?

    No problem. For the final step in your caliper disc brake sizing process, you'll send your worksheet to our Customer Service Group for review and confirmation. If you need more help, our in-house experts are happy to make specific recommendations based on the information you provide. It's part of our "solutions plus" promise that includes no-charge pre-sales technical support.

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    Topics: Caliper Disc Brakes