Archive for the ‘News’ Category

TAM releases….

TAM is proud to release the ONLY low-hydro free-flowing Potassium Titanate on the market.

More to follow!

Ceramics Industry Magazine and TAM

Click HERE to read the article or click HERE to download it

The industry designs wear surfaces and engineers brake system
dynamics for vehicles ranging from locomotives to Lamborghinis.

By Eric Hanson

March 28, 2012

Due to their high heat resistance, thermal stability and hardness, ceramic materials have been used in the friction industry since its early days. Developers of these components relied on ceramics’ beneficial properties to deliver increased life in the most extreme conditions.

Today, an increasing number of formulations and composite materials used in brake pads and clutch linings contain ceramics, and the task of material selection and representative testing methods continues to challenge the material scientists faced with the demands of the application.

Brake Pad Construction

Since the industry designs wear surfaces and engineers brake system dynamics for vehicles ranging from locomotives to Lamborghinis, the material science-related challenges are vast and complex. However, almost all brake pads made today include five primary components—each with a different function. In addition, the ratios of these components vary widely in the different formulations and applications. The components include:

Abrasives—improve stopping performance, modify friction wear

Fillers—improve the manufacturing process, reduce cost

Reinforcing fibers—improve mechanical strength

Lubricants—counter the wear of abrasives, modify friction coefficient

Binders—hold the various components together

Ceramic materials can be found in all five of these basic categories, which underscores the variety of commercially available ceramics used in friction around the globe. From ceramic fiber wool to hard zirconia abrasives and potassium titanate whisker fibers, the material list is long.

A Closer Look

The abrasive component of a brake pad is most likely to contain ceramic materials, although the design may require the abrasive to range in hardness to balance the properties required. To illustrate this range, consider that the abrasive could be as hard as tungsten carbide, for race cars that need to have the “grab” while cornering and change their rotors every race. More common abrasives include zirconia, silicon carbide, alumina, silica and magnesia materials, providing many options in designing the composite material that is pressed into the wear pad.

Fillers in the brake pad manufacturing process can mean many different things in terms of material selection and function. The simplest description of a filler is a low-cost material that fills the space in the brake pad to reduce the overall cost of the pad. However, the filler label is often applied to materials that act as the abrasive, a reinforcing fiber or a friction modifier. A filler material is often specifically used to facilitate the manufacturing process. The industry has applied this term to metallics, organics and inorganics (ceramics and mineral fibers) as a virtual catch-all phrase to describe what is not being used as a binder, reinforcing fiber, abrasive, or lubricant.

As the name would suggest, reinforcing fibers are used to reinforce and strengthen the matrix. However, the selected fiber’s thermal properties affect the composition, as well as the tribological behavior when the pad is in use. Therefore, sufficient attention to fiber selection and its interactions with the other components is critical. Asbestos, mineral wool fibers, ceramic fibers (including potassium titanate fibers), and fiberglass are harder and more heat resistant, while softer fibers such as aramid (Kevlar®) and other synthetics are used to balance the feel of the brakes. Metallic fibers such as chopped copper or steel wire are used when better thermal transfer properties are needed.

Lubricants are typically solid powders such as graphite that are used in brake pad formulations to balance the effects of friction, braking ability, and the wear of pad and rotor. In combination with the appropriate abrasives and friction modifiers (fillers), the lubricant provides a wear surface that acts as an intermediate layer between the mated wear surfaces, which helps reduce the loss of material on the pad and rotor.

Lubricants are often used along with metal sulfides to achieve the desired effect.

Binders are the engineered “glues” that hold the powders, fibers, oils, etc., together, which is important throughout pad manufacturing. Binders also need to withstand the heat, vibration and stresses of braking.

Phenolic resin is likely the most common binder, but other materials such as silicone, rubber, epoxy and other oils are used for specific applications where the trade-off in some properties allows for better performance in particular environments.

Brake Pad Classification

The many combinations of these materials allow engineers to tailor the brake to address the proper balance of noise, vibration, heat and wear on either the rotor or the pad, as well as the “feel” of the braking to the driver—for literally every vehicle on the planet. Several brake pad types or classifications are used in the industry, including:

Asbestos—pads made with mineral fiber used for years as reinforcing filler

Metallic—composed primarily of metal such as steel or copper fibers, iron powder

Semi-metallic—uses similar metals combined with organic fillers and binders

Non-asbestos organic (NAO)—employs a matrix of organic and inorganic materials

Ceramic—composed of ceramic fibers, nonferrous filler materials, ceramic powders

Asbestos is a naturally mined fibrous material that had been widely used as reinforcing filler in brake pads for much of the 20th century. When its health risks and carcinogenic characteristics became known, most manufacturers and many countries banned the use of asbestos. While some friction materials are still made with asbestos in limited parts of the world, this class of brake pads makes up a very small part of the overall market.

Metallic brake pads are composed primarily of metals such as steel or copper fibers, iron powder and graphite, as well as inorganic fillers and friction modifiers or binders. This type of brake pad is widely used due to its cost and durability; however, excessive noise and brake rotor wear can result, especially in more severe environments (e.g., heavy trucks). Semi-metallic pads use a similar mix of metallic fibers, including chopped steel wire or steel wool, iron powder, copper fibers, and graphite (as a lubricant). These fibers are mixed with organic binders such as phenolic resin. Fillers can include everything from rubber dust, cashew dust, mica, and vermiculite or calcium carbonate and potassium titanate, which also help modify the friction coefficient. These pads offer good heat transfer properties and are more durable than metallics, but can also increase rotor wear, produce noise and dust, and fail to perform efficiently at lower temperatures.

NAO brake formulations were designed to replace asbestos brake pads. NAOs employ the use of a matrix of organic and inorganic fillers, friction modifiers, abrasives, and binders. While not considered a fully ceramic material, it is common to have NAOs referred to as “ceramic” due to the practice of using materials like potassium titanate, ceramic fiber wool, silica, zirconia, alumina, silicon carbide, and others as fillers and abrasives. These may also contain mined mineral fibers, aramid fibers, and graphite as a lubricant. NAO pads produce less noise and typically have a better “feel” when braking, but they may create more dust and have a higher pad wear rate.

Ceramic friction materials are not new to the industry; early manufacturers used more traditional ceramic processing to fuse oxides together with silicates to create a ceramic body with a ceramic/glass matrix. Today’s “ceramic” pads are more of a composite material with predominately ceramic materials in an organic resin matrix, and they may still include small amounts of metal, such as copper fiber for heat transfer. The ceramic portion can be composed of ceramic powders and fibers for reinforcement, ceramic fillers such as potassium titanate, and ceramic abrasives such as zirconia or alumina. Ceramic pads are quieter, produce little dust, have less rotor wear and offer superior braking performance.

However, they are more expensive and are typically used only in premium vehicles or in extreme operating conditions. Ceramics can also be used in rotors as a composite in a carbon or metallic matrix, or as a surface layer to deliver optimum braking in high-performance cars.


A variety of brake pads is currently produced to cover the broad range of vehicles and other machines that need braking systems. When combined with the fact that most brake pad formulations can contain 10-25 individual material components that cover the five primary functions outlined above, the permutations and combinations of ceramics, metals, organic materials, and chemicals that an engineer must understand and apply is enormous.

To detail all of the possible ceramic materials and their applications in the friction industry would be a very long discussion. In many cases, the true knowledge and understanding lies within the brake pad companies that guard their secret formulations very closely.

Every new material that is introduced to a pad formulation is required to undergo strict testing in the brake pad manufacturer’s lab. Once the initial approval is obtained, a newly engineered brake pad will be subjected to extensive testing on a dynamometer, which simulates every imaginable scenario for a given vehicle and follows a strict set of parameters and performance dictated by automakers and industry specifications.

Fortunately for the safety of the general public, every pad is designed for a specific vehicle, thoroughly tested according to that vehicle’s requirements, and proven to be safe and effective before ever being approved for the automaker. Ceramics are indeed a critical part of this safety and should be appreciated the next time one has to stop suddenly while behind the wheel.

For additional information, contact TAM Ceramics at 4511 Hyde Park Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14305; call (716) 278-9403; or visit


Eric Hanson is Vice President, Sales and Marketing, for TAM Ceramics, Niagara Falls, N.Y.



Click HERE to download this article

NYSERDA grants helping two companies with energy plans

By Jonathan D. Epstein


Updated: February 21, 2012, 2:53 PM

The state’s energy research agency is awarding $700,000 to two Buffalo-area companies that are developing environmentally friendly technology to generate electricity while reducing the use of fossil fuels that produce pollution, officials said today.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced two grants to ENrG Inc. of Buffalo and TAM Ceramics of Niagara Falls for their development of clean energy power systems.

ENrG is working on fuel cell components, and is also working together with TAM on a project to convert waste heat to electricity.

The projects and awards are part of a larger program of $7 million in incentives to 17 companies statewide for clean energy power. Projects that received funding include fuel cells, solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage systems, waste-heat-to-electric facilities, biogas systems and hydropower.

Nearly 40 companies applied for the competitive funding, but winning applicants had to show how the products improved on existing technology.

NYSERDA was created in 1975 to help New Yorkers increase energy efficiency, save money, use renewable energy and reduce their need for fossil fuels like oil. The state public benefit corporation offers information and analysis, programs, technical expertise, and grants, and also develops partnerships to promote innovative solutions.

“By investing in clean energy power technologies, we are not only helping to improve power reliability and reduce electricity costs, but we are also helping to grow the state’s clean-energy economy,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA.

“These promising projects can lead to new technologies that produce important economic and environmental benefits.”

The larger of the two grants, for $500,000, went to ENrG alone to pursue more manufacturing capacity and improve the performance of the ceramic parts it makes for fuel cells and other products. The company itself will invest another $770,000 toward the project, for a total of nearly $1.3 million.

The second grant, for $200,000, will be shared by ENrG and TAM on an unrelated effort to improve the performance of a high-tech ceramic material that helps turn exhaust from an engine or other waste heat from manufacturing into electricity.

Founded in 2003, ENrG employs 14 in three Western New York sites, and uses technology licensed from Corning Inc. to make ceramic components for fuel cells.

Its primary product today, Thin E-Strate, is an ultra-thin but dense ceramic layer that works as a membrane for solid-oxide fuel cell makers, to keep materials separate and enable the conversion of electrochemical energy to generate power. It can also be used for a range of military and commercial purposes, such as superconductors, sensors and solar heaters.

“ENrG’s typical customer knows they need a flexible thin ceramic membrane but face many challenges in acquiring it because of performance issues, cost and amount of time it takes to secure the product,” said John A. Olenick, ENrG’s president and CEO. “These two NYSERDA awards will permit ENrG to address all of these issues… and significantly grow this business.”

Founded in 1906 in Niagara Falls, TAM Ceramics makes zirconia, titanate and zircon powders for high-temperature furnace linings, brake pads, protective coatings for molten metal casting and welding “consumables.” It also offers processing services through its advanced materials business.

The company is developing a ceramic powder that can be used to create power, at hot temperatures, from waste heat from generators, cars or manufacturing processes. It’s collaborating with ENrG to test whether TAM’s material could be used in porous ceramic structures made by ENrG to make parts that help produce electricity from heat.

“The award from NYSERDA complements TAM Ceramics” pursuit of new renewable energy material technologies based on its successful history of advanced material developments,‘ said George Bilkey, TAM’s president and managing partner. “TAM Ceramics is able to take on this new project as we are able to leverage our installed ceramic processing equipment capacity to manufacture these materials in large volumes.”



Two years!

Congratulations to the TAM Ceramics team for achieving two years in the plant without a lost-time workplace injury!

The safe way is the best way!

Commitment to Safety

Congratulations to the staff and management of TAM Ceramics for going 18 months without a lost-time injury at our facility.  We are very proud of the level of commitment to safety that everyone on site exhibits in the plant, lab, and office.  Keep up the great work!

One year ago, in TAM history

One year ago today, the Niagara Gazette ran a story titled “Local Investors Seek Help Taking Over TAM”.  Thanks to the investors and the team (“Team TAM”), TAM Ceramics has had a great year and we are looking forward to continuing to participate in our community.  The text of the article is below.  Here is a LINK to the original article on the Niagara Gazette and a LINK to download it as well.

LOCAL IDA: Local investors seek help taking over TAM

By Joyce Miles

The prospective new owner of TAM Ceramics in the Town of Niagara is seeking aid and tax incentives from Niagara County to complete its acquisition.

Tam Ceramics Group of NY LLC, is bidding to take over the manufacturing facility from All American Holdings, which bought it a couple years ago and has since decided its products don’t fit All American’s core business.

If All American doesn’t have a buyer, it likely will shut down the plant and put 55 people out of work, TAM Ceramics Group President George Bilkey said.

Instead, Bilkey and his partners, Alfonse Muto and Jerome Williams, both of Lewiston, see an opportunity to grow TAM’s existing business and branch out into renewable energy materials production.

Already, Bilkey said, TAM has contracts with several universities, the U.S. military, NATO and several European governments to research and develop ceramic materials for use in bridge building, space heating, solar and wind power delivery and fuel cells.

TAM Ceramics Group is asking the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency for a 15-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement providing sales, mortgage and property tax exemptions; the property’s current assessed value is $1.5 million.

The group also is seeking a $400,000 loan from the IDA-controlled Niagara County Development Corp. and, separately, transfer of an existing hydroelectric power allocation from New York Power Authority.

The PILOT application indicates the group will purchase the buildings and machinery/equipment for $4 million and invest $1 million working capital in the facility to increase product sales.

All American Holdings and Bilkey, a ceramic engineer, got the more-than-100-year-old business turned around after prior owner Ferro “(ran it) into the ground” and closed it in 2007, Bilkey said. TAM’s business doubled in 2008, and in 2009, it invented “fiber free” potassium titanate, a material used in brake pads that replaces an asbestos-based form.

TAM’s existing products, zirconia, zircon and titantes, end up in golf clubs, Glock pistols, Bosch tools, airplane turbines and Corning manufacturing equipment, Bilkey said. Meanwhile, it’s researching and developing renewable energy materials and nanomaterials (blast-proof cements and solders). Current green energy-related pursuits include conversion of waste heat to electricity; developing supercapacitor materials to hold wind and solar power on a grid; hydrogen generation for fuel cells; and developing high-efficiency micro furnaces.

“We’re talking big, big dollars, huge, huge opportunities for the facility,” Bilkey said.

The PILOT application forecasts TAM will add 25 new manufacturing and engineering jobs within three years. To handle existing business, Bilkey said, it’s looking to add eight jobs within 30 days.

TAM already has a PILOT agreement with Niagara County, transferred from Ferro, that’s good for another two years, according to IDA assistant director Lawrence Witul. A hearing on the request will be held at 4 p.m. March 8 at Niagara Town Hall.

TAM Ceramics is the Niagara USA 2011 Business of the Year

niagara usa chamber award

We are honored to announce that TAM Ceramics is being awarded 2011 Business of the Year from The Niagara USA Chamber.

Introducing Fiber-Free Potassium Titanate (FR)

TAM Ceramics is proud to introduce a new product – Fiber-Free Potassium Titanate (FR). Please follow the links below to either visit the product’s page or download a PDF brochure.


Please contact if you have any questions about this, or any, product.

Buffalo News: TAM Ceramics Grant

Original Buffalo News article HERE

By Matt Glynn
Published:July 31, 2010, 12:00 AM
Updated: August 1, 2010, 08:42 AM

After completing a deal that put the company in the hands of local ownership, TAM Ceramics in the Town of Niagara is working on plans to add jobs.

Local investors secured financial support from various sources, including a $400,000 grant from Empire State Development Corp., to acquire TAM’s assets from All- American Holdings in Atlanta. The total value of the deal was estimated at $6 million.

Empire State Development said that grant, plus another one the agency recently awarded to a fire truck plant reopening in Hamburg, reflect its push to bolster manufacturing jobs.

“Both are desirable in that sense,” said Katie Krawczyk, upstate direct of public affairs for Empire State Development. “Both have a history here.”

Empire State Development said TAM, a maker of ceramic powders, was considered at risk of shutting down under its previous owner. The grant helped the new ownership team acquire TAM’s assets and secure the plant’s 50 jobs, Krawczyk said. The company plans to add 25 jobs by 2013, with average pay of $45,000 a year.

In addition to the $400,000 grant, TAM’s new owners covered the acquisition costs through personal assets and a term loan and line of credit from First Niagara Bank, along with a loan of $400,000 from the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.

TAM has operated on Hyde Park Boulevard since 1906 and has undergone ownership changes over time. The new owners plan to allow companies in the renewable energy industry to use excess building space and equipment, forming a renewable energy incubator complex, according to Empire State Development. The company will also fund new product research at Clarkson University, University at Buffalo and Alfred University.

Empire State Development recently provided a grant for another local venture in a situation similar to TAM’s. The agency gave $400,000 to help reopen a Hamburg fire truck manufacturing plant, now called E-One, that had closed under American LaFrance’s ownership.

The fire truck plant was revived under the direction of one of the founders of the R. D. Murray fire truck company that eventually was acquired by American LaFrance. It has hired about 15 employees and expects the total to grow to between 20 to 25 employees.

The state agency is keen on supporting manufacturing ventures that meet its criteria to shore up the state’s job base in that sector, Krawczyk said. Manufacturing jobs tend to be higher paying, creating more of a payoff when they are retained or added.

But it is also a sector that has suffered extensive losses. Buffalo Niagara had 47,700 manufacturing jobs in June, down 43 percent from 10 years earlier, according to the state Department of Labor. The annual average total of manufacturing jobs has fallen each year since 1995.

Before awarding its grants, Empire State Development scrutinizes a project’s financials, taking into account what other sources the owner is drawing upon, how much of the owner’s own funds are going into the project, and the outlook for job creation, Krawczyk said. The amount of the grants vary depending on the factors.

Empire State Development also provided financial support to Globe Specialty Metals when it revived a silicon plant in Niagara Falls, Krawczyk said.

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