Sintering is a process by which particles of metal and other materials are compacted under intense heat and pressure to form a solid mass, similar in some ways to the manufacturing process for "particle board" wood used in discount furniture. Quite nearly every motorcycle, ATV and other small vehicle is equipped with sintered brake pads as they are thought to last longer and perform more effectively under intense friction and resistance.
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Modern sintered brakes are made with mostly copper. Iron, once thought to be a more cost-effective alternative to sintered copper, has been all but eliminated from manufactured sintered brakes as it is thought to not be as strong as copper.
In a typical sintering process, copper "pucks" are affixed to the surface of the brake pad that melt when placed in a furnace. This affixes the copper surface to the brake pads.
Nearly every brake sold on the market today for motorcycles, ATVs and other small vehicles uses sintering to affix the brake pad surface. Since sintering is thought to make brake pads more durable and longer-lasting, non-sintered brake pads have nearly been phased out, though you may still find them on factory brake systems on older small vehicles. If this is the case, it is well worth the investment to replace them with sintered brake pads.
As noted, sintered metal brake pads are thought to last longer than their non-sintered counterparts. They are also thought to brake more effectively and quickly under harsher conditions such as slamming on the brakes. Sintered metal brake pads are ideal for off-road and racing enthusiasts because they tend to provide more effective braking on non-road surfaces like wet mud and sand.
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