Finnish research to reduce mass of motor magnets

3DREMAG, a European consortium led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has embarked on a mission to develop a fully 3D-printable electric motor weighing less than three-quarters of contemporary motors.

“In the long run, our goal is to construct a fully 3D-printable electric motor that would be approximately 30 per cent lighter than today’s motors,” declared Joni Reijonen, a research scientist and project manager at VTT.

“Achieving this goal requires multidisciplinary co-operation and combining different technologies.”

The first step toward the goal is to develop a material suitable for the 3D-printing of permanent magnets that are used in the motors of hybrid and electric vehicles. The powdery material will be made from iron, boron and neodymium, the ingredients of the strongest permanent magnets available today.

Its printability will enable motor manufacturers to optimise the size of permanent magnets, improve resource efficiency for scarce magnet materials such as neodymium and reduce the environmental impact of traffic, the second largest source of climate emissions on Earth.

Carsten Schuh, the technology director in charge of functional materials and manufacturing processes at Siemens, said the consortium will seek to implement complex multilayered structures for 3D-printable magnet components.

“It will enable new features such as segmentation and direct integration which increase the efficiency of electric motors. This solution can significantly enhance the conscious utilisation of scarce materials,” he viewed.

Along with Tekna and Less Common Materials, Siemens is one of the three industry partners of the project led by VTT and funded by EIT Raw Materials.