3D printed electric motors using iron, copper and ceramics

Johannes Rudolph observes the multimedia 3D-printing of an electrical machine in the lab. This is the first time copper, ceramics and iron have been used simultaneously in the printing process. On the left are the rotors and the stator is on the right. Photo: Jacob Müller

Using metallic and ceramic pastes, extruded layer by layer into a predetermined form and then sintered together, researchers from the Chemnitz University of Technology Professorship of Electrical Energy Conversion Systems and Drives were able to 3D-print an entire electric motor. “We will present this innovation, the first of its kind in the world, at the ‘Hannover Messe 2018’ trade fair,” reports Prof. Dr. Ralf Werner, head of the Professorship.

Last year, two members of his academic staff, Johannes Rudolph, and Fabian Lorenz, presented a 3D-printed coil capable of withstanding temperatures over 300°C. Since that time, they have successfully printed all important components of an electrical machine. This includes copper electrical conductors, which create magnetic fields in combination with iron or iron alloys and ceramic electrical insulation, which insulates the conductors from each other and from the iron components, referred to as the magnetic circuit.

“Our goal over the last two and a half years was to dramatically increase the temperature that electrical machines are capable of withstanding,” reports Werner. The researchers in Chemnitz have achieved this by replacing conventional polymer-based insulation materials with specialized ceramics, which have a much higher degree of temperature resistance.  “The maximum permissible winding temperature of 220°C associated with conventional insulation systems can then be exceeded by a significant amount. The operating temperature of electric machines is therefore only limited by the ferromagnetic properties of the iron components, which can only be maintained up to 700°C,” adds Rudolph.

Read more: Researchers Create First Fully 3D Printed Electric Motor

thumbnail courtesy of www.tu-chemnitz.de