Electrification company Equipmake has teamed up with leading additive-manufacturing organisation HiETA to develop a next-generation motor, as part of a project that is being grant-funded by Innovate UK.
Codenamed Ampere, the new motor will draw on Equipmake’s world-leading expertise in electric-motor design and HiETA’s ‘pioneering knowledge’ of thermal engineering and additive manufacturing to produce an extremely lightweight and efficient — but low-cost — electric motor with a peak power density of more than 20kW per kg; this is more than four-times as ‘power-dense’ as a conventional electric motor.
The key to Ampere’s performance is its combination of an advanced motor design based on additive manufacturing, allowing its metal structure to be 3-D printed rather than machined from a solid billet.
This approach offers a number of advantages; for example, metal is only put where it is needed.
Moreover, thermally efficient thin walls and optimised fine surface details can be combined directly with the motor’s structure, thereby replacing multi-part assemblies with a single complex architecture that has ‘exceptional cooling ability, is lightweight, has low inertia and allows for greatly increased rotational speed’.
This approach to motor design not only means that Ampere will use a minimal amount of high-strength alloys in its construction —and a minimal amount of costly active materials (the magnets), keeping the cost as low as possible.
Equipmake and HiETA (www.hieta.biz
) are targeting a peak power of 220kW at 30,000rev/min and a weight of less than 10kg; by comparison, even the best standard permanent-magnet motors in use today would struggle to achieve 5kW per kg.
Ian Foley, managing director of Equipmake (www.equipmake.co.uk
), said: “Additive manufacturing is the key to unlocking the next step change in electric-motor design, and we are delighted to be partnering with HiETA on Ampere.
“This project has the potential to totally change our concept of what an electric motor can offer . . . it is set to further revolutionise e-mobility, whether that’s in automotive or aerospace.”