Sep 22, 2017 | By Tess

A pair of scientists from the Technical University of Chemnitz in Germany are using a novel multi-material additive manufacturing process to produce electric motors. By combining 3D printing with CNC machining technology, the team has demonstrated how to manufacture ceramic and metal-based motor components that increase the overall efficiency of the device.

The process, developed by Johannes Rudolph and Fabian Lorenz of the Professorship of Electrical Energy Conversion Systems and Drives, uses ViscoTec print heads mounted on a multi-material 3D printer to extrude layers of both metallic and ceramic pastes.

3D printed electric coil

The researchers say that by combining the two materials, they have been able to achieve a higher power density for the electrical coils they are 3D printing for electric motor systems. By integrating additional cooling channels into the coil, they have increased the power density of the part even more.

Having these ceramic-metal 3D printed coils integrated into an electric motor can reportedly increase the motor’s overload capability. Additive manufacturing has enabled the team of German scientists to explore various means of improving and advancing the internal geometries of the motor’s parts.

The team commented on the material pairing system saying: “The innovation of the technology is that, through carrying out several experiments, we have succeeded in making use of the metallic and ceramic materials developed by us in the form of pastes for the printing process. The challenge was to optimally coordinate the mechanical and physical properties of the existing material pair."

“In addition, the flowability of the paste had to exist to be able to process these in an extrusion process. Adequate shape stability was also necessary to obtain the desired design after extrusion. The process developed by us offers the possibility to achieve different material combinations of ceramics and metals in an additive production process, which cannot be achieved with current conventional production methods.”

Multi-material 3D printing with ViscoTec print heads

A crucial part of realizing the multi-material 3D printing process was the inclusion of ViscoTec’s print heads, which are optimized for highly viscous materials, such as metallic and ceramic pastes. After facing challenges with their own hand-made extrusion system, the researchers reached out to ViscoTec to experiment with their print heads.

“Dosing accuracy and precision are of enormous importance for the printing process of electric motors. In particular, the start and end points of each line were significantly improved by the print heads from ViscoTec,” said the team. “This results in an even printed image. At the same time, the print heads allow an unproblematic adjustment of the volume flows during the printing process. This allows us to achieve the targeted characteristics we wanted.”

Not only are the researchers exploring the 3D printing process for making electric motors, but they also believe it could be used to improve the design and production of electrical machines. This is largely due to the fact that the researchers have the freedom to include internal cooling structures as well as electrical windings and magnetic fluxes into parts.

The researchers have been working on this innovative 3D printing project since 2015. Based in Germany, ViscoTec is a manufacturer of dosing and filling systems. This summer, the company released a new two-component printhead specifically developed for 3D printing viscous materials.

Johannes Rudolph and Fabian Lorenz

(Images: TU Chemnitz)

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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