The squeal noise generated by railway disk brakes is an everyday source of discomfort for the passengers both inside and outside the trains in stations. The development of silent brake components is needed and requires a better characterisation and understanding of the phenomenon. This is the aim of the experimental and numerical investigations performed in the framework of the French AcouFren project and presented in this paper. The first part deals with the analysis of experimental data coming from bench tests in a lot of braking configurations including different brake pads. In the second part, the measurements are compared with the results of a large FE model of the brake taking into account the mechanical complexity of each component, especially the brake pads. Components models have been previously updated using experimental modal analysis but the whole model is a direct assembling of it, without updating. The assumption of unilateral contact and Coulomb friction at the pad/disc interface is sufficient to destabilize the sliding equilibrium of the brake and lead to self-sustained vibrations. Complex vibrating modes are computed in order to describe and understand the dynamic instabilities.

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