With 3D printing of electric motor components, a new era of efficiency is now underway for electric motors. The focus is on copper windings, the main component of every electric motor. German firm Additive Drives is at the forefront of this innovation.
Streamlined production – directly from the designer’s CAD data – enables shorter development and test cycles. The drive tasks of the future – whether in industry or traffic – place high demands on the individual components. By manufacturing copper coils using 3D printing, Additive Drives achieves higher performance and efficiency. The higher copper content in the electric motor reduces losses and improves the thermal coupling of the winding.
Led by a team of engineers and scientists, who have been working in the fields of additive manufacturing and electric motor development for more than ten years, Additive Drives combines specialist knowledge with market experience from the sectors of mobility & automotive, industry and racing in order to provide you with an optimal solution.
The first application cases are promising. One involves cooperation with the Racetech Racing Team eV of the TU Freiberg. In this case (shown in the image above), 3D printed single coils are used on the racing engine obtaining a maximum copper fill factor thanks to geometrically perfectly adapted coils. Here the forced heat transfer from winding to the laminated core prevents hotspot formation, as variable conductor thicknesses reduce current displacement leading to maximum performance.
In another project (shown in the gallery below), copper 3D printed hairpin windings reduce the time required for the development and production of an electric traction motor prototype to one month. Hairpins are a new technology in the field of electric motors. Rectangular copper rods replace the wound copper wires. The process is easier to automate than conventionally wound motors and is particularly popular in the automotive sector because it significantly reduces manufacturing times.
Thanks to extremely fast prototype implementation, Additive Drives enabled real-time feedback of the measurement results to the simulation, thus ensuring the required operating properties and improving quality assurance. Geometric design and material parameters are in line with conventional manufacturing, which creates the conditions for meaningful prototyping and perhaps even direct production in the future.
Direct production of individual lots was achieved by Additive Drives for Dresden-based pedelec manufacturer Binova with a modular drive system. Using 3D printed individual coils (shown below), Additive Drives helped Binova produce electric bicycles with an unconventional electric motor design. The realization of motors up to lot size 1 for the purpose of product individualization introduced perfectly coordinated torque behavior by adjusting the number of turns. This, in turn, enabled the development of different e-bike classes: pedelecs, cargo bikes, hand bikes, with maximum flexibility and no tool adjustments.