No Stopping Company Working to Improve Brake Rotors

PureForge’s proprietary treatment creates a “super-tough” surface suitable for all brake applications. It also can be used on the heavy, cast-iron rotors used in motor vehicles – including electric vehicles.

Joseph Szczesny

June 6, 2023

3 Min Read
PureForge main screenshot

Science used in the aerospace industry and for surgical instruments can help make a key element of a vehicle’s brake system – the rotor – lighter, wear better and ultimately safer, according to an engineer and self-described serial entrepreneur from Southern California.

Nathan Meckel, founder, president and chief technical officer of PureForge, has developed a product he believes will benefit auto and truck companies of all kinds. “Everybody needs brakes,” Meckel says while showing off the small factory he has acquired in Troy, MI, to expand the company’s appeal to carmakers.

One major automaker, Hyundai, already has an agreement with PureForge. Two others are seriously looking at the company’s technology.

Schooled in physics and metallurgy, Meckel worked with his father, a theoretical physicist who worked in Southern California’s thriving aerospace industry before selling his business to North American Rockwell.

After his father sold his company, Meckel struck out on his own and for one of his ventures developed a special coating for surgical scalpels that extends their useful life indefinitely. He sold the coating company to a competitor and began studying potential products to which he could apply his expertise in exotic materials.

PureForge Meckel and Heidacker.jpg

PureForge Meckel and Heidacker_0

Meckel says he settled on brake rotors after concluding the components could use an upgrade.

“Nobody likes changing brake rotors. It is a dirty job,” says Meckel, who during his research learned that mechanics for the transit authority in San Diego would frequently call in sick if they knew they would be assigned to changing the rotors on a bus.

His first step was to treat the aluminum rotors for motorcycles, including those used by police in Southern California. The material was so effective, Meckel says, brakes using his coating are credited with helping save the lives of seven officers because of its unique durability and effectiveness.

Now, PureForge is preparing to take on some new challenges that utilize its proprietary nano-surface treatment to create a “super-tough” surface suitable for all brake applications. It also can be used on the heavy, cast-iron rotors used in motor vehicles – even electric vehicles – of all sizes and descriptions. 

“Cast iron is a difficult substrate to work with,” Meckel says, because it often includes impurities that can compromise the effectiveness of any coating. Brake dust, which is as toxic as particulate emissions from old-fashioned diesel engines, is another issue.

PureForge, originally located in Poway, CA, now has 34 patents, says Meckel. Eight more are pending and 27 more applications are being developed. “This is a huge opportunity for us,” he says.

The company’s technology can extend the life of rotors tenfold and extend the life of brake pads fivefold.

Gordon Heidacker, a former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles executive who joined PureForge more than a year ago as CEO, says technology created by PureForge offers OEMs five main advantages over standard wear braking systems, including longevity, reduction of brake dust, rust resistance, lightweighting and even branding.

Brake rotors are heavy. But PureForge coatings allow manufacturers to reduce the weight on the brake rotor while meeting federal motor vehicle safety standards, says Heidacker, who worked as a vehicle-line executive and as a senior purchasing executive at FCA.

The technology also addresses the high maintenance costs and other problems associated with routine brake wear and could have applications in the aftermarket, according to Heidacker.

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