Organic clutch disc vs Ceramic clutch disc – How are they different?
- October 28, 2017
- Posted by: Richard Qu
- Category: Clutch Disc
The clutch disc is a mysterious component, even for those who have replaced one in a car firsthand. When you’re selecting the clutch disc for replacement, you’re given two options in most cases: organic vs ceramic disc. Quite obviously, the two styles are very different, but how do you know which one is best for your application? It begins with understanding the differences between the two.
organic vs ceramic clutch disc
There are five main criteria when you’re selecting between an organic clutch disc and a ceramic disc. With each section, you’ll be able to better determine which clutch disc is better for your application.
When you talk about organic and ceramic clutch discs, it refers to the friction material itself. However, neither is really accurate in its description.
Organic clutch disc material is comprised of phenolic resins, compounded rubber, and friction modifiers like metallic powder or metal oxides. It’s very unlikely that it’s truly organic material. It’s the most common type of OEM clutch disc, but it’s also the least durable. When the organic clutch disc has fiberglass strands woven into it, the friction material becomes much more durable, but the price also increases.
Ceramic clutch disc material is not made of ceramic like you’d imagine is used for pottery. Instead, it’s a mixture of copper, iron, silicon dioxide, tin bronze, and sometimes graphite.
The friction material is secured to the clutch disc backing plate in one way or another. Organic clutch discs are molded onto the backing plate. It’s the most affordable manufacturing method but certainly not the strongest. Ceramic clutch discs are sintered or brazed in place on the backing plate, then fastened with rivets to the clutch plate.
Heat is the enemy. For a standard, OEM-style organic clutch, it is tested to withstand temperatures of 500F. For heavy-duty applications, it may be 700F. However, in racing, drifting, and other high-performance driving styles, temperatures will quickly exceed 700F. You can experience sudden and catastrophic clutch failure with an organic clutch disc if you aren’t careful. On the other hand, a ceramic clutch disc is able to withstand temperatures in excess of 1000F.
As with any clutch, it’s all in how you drive. And in the difference between organic disc vs ceramic disc, it’s the biggest factor for most drivers.
An organic clutch disc is designed for maximum drivability. The friction material grabs more gradually, providing a smoother shift and even wear. Under high-performance conditions though, the temperature causes the clutch disc to ‘hot-spot’. Vibration, clutch slippage, and difficult shifts are the result.
A ceramic clutch disc is the opposite. The friction material grabs very quickly, which can result in harsh shift and shuddering. It is prone to excess wear very quickly if you ride the clutch, but can withstand the rigors of performance-style driving much better than an organic clutch disc.
In the end, it comes down to the type of driving intended. For street-use vehicles that are driven hard occasionally, an organic clutch disc is probably the best bet. If streetability isn’t a concern or the car is mainly intended for track use, a ceramic clutch disc is the optimal choice.