Engineers at Coventry’s Manufacturing Technology Centre are working on the development of what they claim could be the world’s first 3D printed electric motor
The team has developed a way of producing an electric motor with major components made using additive manufacture.
The result is a motor with increased motor power despite a reduction in the size and mass of key components, a part count reduction making supply chains simpler, increased manufacturing efficiency, lower running costs and reduced assembly and inspection time and costs.
MTC said their work potentially clears the path for the commercialisation of a 3D-printed electric motor, something which has hitherto only been the subject of theoretical studies.
The group has already developed a way of producing an electric motor casing including integrated cooling channels using additive manufacture and the ambition is for the motor to be wholly manufactured using additive manufacture.
MTC chief technologist Steve Nesbitt said the development of electric motors has not received this level of focus for over 100 years, despite costs, quality and performance being high priorities for manufacturers.
Nesbitt said: “Additive manufacturing is a key enabler for developing the complex features and forms essential to improving the performance and functionality of electric motors.
“The process of manufacturing electric motors has a number of challenges including complex or manual assembly, materials that are difficult to process and which can be expensive, thermal management, and the need to make the assembly lighter.”
He added: “By leveraging the capabilities of additive manufacture through product redesign major benefits can be achieved in costs, waste reduction, performance and ease of manufacture.”
The team is now involved in a detailed examination of further developments required for production, and overcoming potential challenges and constraints.