Everyone who drives a car or truck knows something about caliper disc brakes. But this style of brake is overwhelmingly used in manufacturing and other industrial settings. These industrial brakes have the power to slow, stop, and hold loads from lightweight to extremely heavy, precisely and reliably. But don’t let the word “disc” fool you. While caliper brakes are typically used with discs or rotors, the number of linear applications is increasing significantly.
Linear brakes open doors for design engineers because, in many cases, they offer distinct advantages over traditional rotational braking. In fact, at W.C. Branham, we have received so many inquiries about this option, more than a quarter of our brake requests now relate to linear applications. Among all those requests, we noticed a certain window of braking torque was lacking an existing solution, so we redesigned our 200 Series model to meet the demand and now offer a ‘UL’ or ‘unlimited’ version.
W.C. Branham caliper brakes offer flexibility in rail size and surface. As long as it is a flat surface with two parallel faces, straight or slightly curved, a brake can be used. Other rail-braking systems available in the marketplace require customers to use a manufacturer-supplied rail.
Why Choose Caliper Brakes for Linear Applications?
They increase safety and accuracy when used as a clamping device. Linear brakes also improve safety and save space in applications where loads must be (or could be) suspended vertically.
Caliper disc brakes work the same way whether your goal is to halt rotational motion or linear motion. In a typical rotary situation, the brake usually holds each pivot point to slow and stop forward progress. Linear brakes use a clamping mechanism when a rigid hold is needed on a linear axis, whether the load is moving horizontally or vertically. They clamp the rail instead of the wheel, which can make more sense for certain applications.
Applications We’re Seeing for Linear Brakes
As noted, the use of caliper disc brakes for linear systems continues to expand. Here are some common examples:
- Cart on a rail – this could be part of a manufacturing process, or it could be something futuristic such as a Hyperloop pod-style car that transports passengers over a rail instead of a road.
- Overhead gantry systems or jib cranes, where the load rides on a rail.
- Elevator emergency brakes.
- Linear indexing equipment, especially in medical device and pharmaceuticals manufacturing applications where assembly is often complicated, requiring dozens of stops along the way.
- Linear robotics -- for example, where a welding machine rides on a rail and the brake holds it in position to make each weld.
- Renewable energy industries and ocean wave energy systems, where linear brakes can be used to hold the device in place for structural maintenance.
Need Something Unique?
Just as we designed our caliper “disc” linear brakes to be used on virtually any rail that has two parallel flat surfaces, we also welcome custom projects. Whether you need a slight modification to one of our standard linear brake configurations or you need help designing something new, our design and engineering experts are always up for the next challenge – finding Solutions in Motion® for linear systems, in this case. We’re ready to get started whenever you are, so just drop us an email or give us a call.