Jan 26, 2018 | By Benedict

Researchers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have developed a cold-spray additive manufacturing process for fabricating permanent magnets for electric motors. The process could lead to cost reductions and new design possibilities.

The high-performance permanent magnets used in electric motors serve to rotate the motor when an electrical power is applied. Generally, these motors are made using processes such as powder compaction (sintered magnets) or injection molding (bonded magnets). But these processes, effective as they are, can take a long time and cost a lot of money. Moreover, the shapes these processes can produce are limited in scope.

Fabrice Bernier and Jean-Michel Lamarre, researchers from the National Research Council of Canada, are looking to remove the obstacles of powder compaction and injection molding by developing a cold-spray additive manufacturing process for the production of permanent magnets for electric motors. Their technique combines all the production processes into one, and could consequently save manufacturers both time and money.

In cold spray additive manufacturing or 3D printing, a fine powder material is accelerated in a high-velocity compressed gas jet and directed at a target—either an existing part that needs additional features or repair, or a build area on which a new part can be built from scratch. A robot controls the direction of the spray according to digital instructions, producing a 3D part built up layer by layer.

So why cold spray for magnets? According to the NRC researchers, using this process offers several advantages. For starters, it has very high buildup rates, which means several kilograms of magnets can be reeled off every hour. And secondly, these 3D printed magnets have excellent mechanical and thermal properties.

That’s thanks to the velocity of the cold spray deposition, which—in combination with the absence of polymer in the mix—gives the magnets intrinsic mechanical properties, such as increased thermal conductivity (which allows for better temperature control) and a resistance to corrosion and oxidation.

A further advantage of cold spray 3D printing is the superior adhesion between the surface of the part and the magnetic material. Because there is no glue or assembly involved, the bond is exceptionally strong. This also means that the magnets are less brittle than their conventionally manufactured counterparts.

Finally, because cold spray 3D printing is an additive process, it opens up a wealth of new design possibilities for magnets that would not be achievable using techniques like compaction and molding. Complex internal geometries, for example, can be fabricated at the click of a button.

Several prototype magnets have already been printed by the NRC researchers, who believe that there are several ways in which the process can be used to improve motor designs. In future, soft magnetic materials could also be developed to widen the scope of the process.

“This technology will allow the creation of more compact, better-performing motors for the future and could pave the way for building entire motors using cold spray technology,” said Bernier, who added that the 3D printing process could offer “significant advantages, such as cost reduction, better thermal management, and more complex geometries and functionalities.”

The technology could benefit manufacturers of electric vehicles, as well as those in the business of magnetic cooling, wind turbines, and telecommunication devices.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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The Power wrote at 1/29/2018 9:04:32 PM:

I doubt they are spraying high tesla rare earth magnets since they are pyrophoric and prone to oxidation.

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