Ventilated Brake Rotors Explained – Standard Vane vs PVT Pillar Design

Brembo ventilated pillar rotors

Braking is everything in driving. Whether you’re commuting to work or chasing personal records around a track, your ability to slow down is important. Modern brake systems use brake rotors and brake pads to slow a vehicle down – a system that’s both simple and efficient.

When you press the brake pedal, you’re sending hydraulic pressure to the calipers, which in turn press the brake pads against the rotor. The resulting friction reduces speed, ultimately bringing the vehicle to a halt. 

However, where there’s friction, there’s also heat. Brake rotors, as well as brake pads, are subjected to immense temperature buildups during use. Excess heat is the primary enemy of any braking system as it greatly reduces its effectiveness. Even worse, the buildup of excess heat can warp rotors, causing permanent damage.

Passive Ventilation

Vented Rotors

Brake rotors come in all kinds of flavors, with solid rotors still being extremely popular. As cars became heavier and faster, solid brake rotors have proven to be inefficient at managing excess temperatures that were becoming the norm. With up to 80% of this excess heat being channeled through the rotor, it was obvious that something had to be done.

The solution came in the form of passive ventilation. Instead of having a solid cast iron rotor, the idea was to build one that had vanes running between the interior and exterior braking surfaces. That way, as the rotor spun, it would create constant airflow through those vanes, resulting in a much cooler rotor.

Brembo Pillar Venting Technology 

Brembo Pillar Venting Technology

The use of passive ventilation has significantly impacted the overall performance of an average brake rotor. However, as performance demands increased, it became apparent that standard directed vanes weren’t going to cut it for long.

Brembo was one of the first companies to offer an innovative, proprietary evolution of the ventilated rotor design. Named Pillar Venting Technology, the new ventilation design delivered numerous improvements compared to standard directed ventilation vanes. Engineers at Brembo recognized the limits of standard vanes, as well as the shortfalls of this original design.

Instead of running contoured, directional vanes through the middle of the rotor, Brembo went with a more intricate system of air ducts whose main purpose is to optimize airflow and increase the cooling surface.

By implementing this unique ventilation pattern, Brembo has achieved: 

  • Better Wear Resistance – The ability to offer consistent cooling even when the vehicle isn’t moving at higher speeds allows Brembo PVT rotors to stay well below critical operating temperatures. This, in turn, results in less rotor wear over time.
  • Resistance to Thermal Cracks – One of the consequences of extreme heat is thermal cracks that form all over the braking surface of the rotor. By introducing a more efficient airflow pattern using PVT, Brembo has managed to increase the resistance to thermal cracks by over 40%
  • Longer Brake Pad Life – Lastly, lower maximum average rotor temperature results in a longer brake pad life.
  • Reduction in Debris Ingress – PVT and PVT Plus rotors feature a vane design that prevents the ingress of debris inside the rotor.

Pushing Pillar Technology Further with PVT Plus 

Brembo PVT Plus Rotors

Once the initial results came in showing the advantage of PVT technology, Brembo started working on optimizing this system even further. First came the T pillars and Star Pillars, both of which were designed to improve the performance and durability of rotors used on trucks as well as light commercial vehicles. 

However, the next big improvement came with the development of PVT Plus technology. Engineers at Brembo managed to improve the thermal performance of PVT rotors by 30% using better-optimized pillars and a more effective airway design. Aside from boosting the overall cooling performance of the rotor, one of the side effects of this optimization was the 10% reduction in brake rotor mass

Customized PVT Solutions for Specific Vehicle Models 

The original PVT layout had proven to be a good universal solution. Pushing the performance of PVT technology to the next level meant optimizing individual rotors to fit the mass and driving characteristics of car models where this solution is adopted as original equipment (OE).

Each PVT Plus rotor has its own PVT geometry, thus delivering a custom performance profile. That being said, our PVT and PVT Plus rotors fit on both ends of the axis.