Traverse City-based Century Inc. said this week that one of its divisions, Century/3Plus LLC, successfully cast the first ever lightweight aluminum metal matrix composite brake drum for a military vehicle, the FMTV medium-duty truck.

Weight reduction and survivability are top priorities of the Department of Defense. Century has been working in conjunction with the United States Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center in Warren to find ways to lightweight vehicle components. Century’s drum is expected to save the FMTV up to 300 pounds of un-sprung weight, a weight savings almost unheard of for one component.

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The TARDEC/Century Drum weighs 45 percent less than its cast iron equivalent and lasts significantly longer. The lighter weight and longer life cycle equate to increased mobility, fuel savings, vehicle efficiencies, and lower maintenance costs for the vehicle.

“This is an historic day and a fine example on how business and the government can work together to answer the needs of our men and women serving in the U.S. military,” said Jim McManus, new business development manager at Century/3 Plus LLC. “As a veteran owned small business, it’s an honor to have the opportunity to demonstrate our technology and contribute to the mobility and the survivability of our Soldiers and their vehicles.”

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Century’s Light-Weighting Technology enables the transition of properties found in cast iron and heavy steel to the use of lightweight alloys such as aluminum or magnesium for select components through the use of Metal Matrix Composites.

Century’s technology allows for the consistent mass production of the ceramic materials used in MMCs. TARDEC is testing the lightweight drums which should be completed by the end of the year.

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