Difference between metallic. Semi-Metallic, Ceramic Brake Pads

What are the differences? I chose ceramic. they seem to generate a lot of dust. Which type is the nest?

No brake component engineers on the board, eh? Well, I’ll share my understanding.

In this context, “metallic” is a way to say “semi-metallic” with two less syllables. The friction material has small metal (bronze?) fragments embedded in the matrix. I assume the ceramic pads have similar ceramic fragments.

I don’t know how they differ in performance, but my bet would be that ceramic pads are less likely to make “annoyance” noises and would cause less wear on the rotors.

What’s best, in my opinion and experience, is the type installed at the factory. I know that in the case of organic and semi-metallic pads, switching one for the other will cause a decrease in braking performance. Parts stores that ask the customer which type they want are doing a disservice – it’s not a matter of preference, it’s a matter of what’s right for how the particular car’s brake system was engineered.

I’m not sure if the same concern exists with ceramic pads. They’re a newer technology and undoubtedly offer some improvement from a design/engineering aspect. Whether they offer improvement as a service upgrade, I don’t know. Nevertheless, while I’d never put organic pads on a car that originally came with semi-mets or ceramics, nor semi-mets on a car that originally came with organics or ceramics, I would not have qualms about putting ceramics on any car.

I’m not a brake expert, but this is what I’ve read.

Brakes generate a lot of heat. In the old days, this was handled by using asbestos materials. Since these are now recognized as a health issue, asbestos brake pad formulations were replaced with semi-metallic formulations. The semi-metallic brake pads use metallic fibers (usually steel) embedded in resin to provide the required braking friction and heat conduction required. Ceramic brake pads use formulas based around ceramics and copper fibers instead of steel fibers.

The advantages of ceramic are that they don’t produce as much brake dust, and the dust that they produce is less visible. This makes them very desirable on performance cars that often have chrome wheels with exposed parts, making the brake dust much more noticeable. They also squeak at higher frequencies, usually beyond the range of human hearing. People say they are quieter, but it’s not that they make less noise, it’s that the noise they make is up in the frequency range where we can’t hear it.

The disadvantages of ceramic pads is that they don’t grip as well when they are cold. If you are braking a lot, like in a car race, it’s not an issue because the pads heat up and grip just fine. For normal every day driving though they basically don’t perform as well. While they last longer than semi-metallic pads, ceramic pads also wear down the rotor more, so you end up trading brake pad wear for rotor wear, which is much more expensive in the long run.

I’ve read that the newer ceramic formulations grip better when cold and don’t wear the rotors so much. I don’t know how true that really is though.

engineer comp geek is pretty much on the money, except that I’d read that ceramic pads were actually less harsh on rotors than semi-metallic, grab better when cold, and were pretty much an improvement over them in all ways except cost.

Yes, my impression was also that ceramics are a newer technology that is superior to (semi) metallics in all ways except cost.