Buying locally made brakes--that may even be better for your vehicle than your current brakes--has never been easier. If you're handy with a socket set, you might consider checking out LiteBrake. And if you're not, they're working to make connections with automotive distributors to get their innovative product into the hands of more consumers.
Local business LiteBrake Tech, LLC
has created the Steel Clad Aluminum Brake, also called SCA Brake, which has been in production since fall 2011. The company, which sold about 50 rotors so far this year, operates an office in both Hancock and Waukesha, Wisconsin, and manufactures their products between the two states.
LiteBrake President Scott Huang has a doctorate in metallurgical engineering and materials science from Michigan Technological University
in Houghton and says his company's rotors are lighter, dispel heat more quickly, have a longer lifespan, and improve the handling of the car better than other brake systems. It uses steel clad aluminum, which is basically a piece of aluminum with steel fused over it.
The idea for LiteBrake's steel aluminum brake technology stemmed from Michigan Tech back in 2001 when it was the main research topic in the Department of Energy's Aluminum Industry Roadmap for the Automotive Market. Aluminum needs low temperatures to work properly, but LiteBrake has since worked to solve that problem.
LiteBrake's SCA Brake system, which is patent pending, is different from other products available on the market for a variety of reasons, says Huang. One is that it is able to decrease the temperature of the brakes by using the adjoining aluminum wheel as the primary heat sink and the radiator to lessen braking heat. In addition, since the aluminum's volume increases when the temperature rises in the system, gas mileage is increased and pad dragging is decreased.
Finally, the system stands out amongst competition because of their use of higher quality steel that has multiple slots throughout it to remove thermal mismatch and support brake function.
"Altogether, these benefits can save drivers hundreds of dollars, considering reduced cost of fuel, maintenance, and additionally enhancing the owner's satisfaction with the vehicle," Huang says.
Since the company's inception, growth has been slower than expected, says Huang, so they will be shifting their sales strategy. LiteBrake will move away from focusing on direct online customer sales to a more indirect approach by funneling sales through existing brake rotor distribution channels.
LiteBrake receives support from Michigan Tech's MTEC SmartZone
, which helps tech businesses reach their potential by providing low cost facilities, access to entrepreneurial communities and networking opportunities, start up training, business plan prep and more.
Keeping the business here in Michigan and the U.S. is something that is important to Huang.
"The U.S. has the required manufacturing capability and leads the technology development in the automobile industry worldwide," he says.
Through its successes, one challenge that LiteBrake has faced is marketing.
"Marketing is a challenge to us since we are trying to switch from researchers to entrepreneurs," Huang says. "However, we are willing to learn and have learned lots. With the help from others and our effort, we are confident we can face the challenges and grow our business soundly and rapidly."
In the future, the company plans to expand the types of models they have available in order to serve more customers, add more employees to the business, increase their sales options, and reach further into the original equipment manufacturer sector.
The SCA Brake can be purchased online. To learn more about the technology behind the brake systems, visit their website
Julia Woehrer is a freelance writer who also works as an Internet content manager for a resort group. She attended the School of Art and Design at Northern Michigan University where she concentrated in photography and minored in journalism. She volunteers at a local no-kill cat shelter and enjoys spending time with her cats, Bella and Macy.