3D-printing rare earth magnet EV parts
European consortium develops 3D printable Nd-Fe-B powder Metal Tech News – December 2, 2020
Last updated 12/9/2020 at 5:22am
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is leading a European consortium developing a new material for printing rare earth magnets used in a wide array of modern products – high-performance motors in electric vehicles and e-bikes, wind turbines and generators, medical magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and high-fidelity speakers are just a few of the applications for these powerful permanent REE magnets.
More than 90% of EV motors are based on permanent magnets that deliver high power in small volume. The strongest permanent magnets are made with neodymium, in combination with iron and boron.
Currently, the shapes of neodymium-iron-boron magnets is limited by the manufacturing process. Sintering, the primary process for making these magnets involves compacting powder into a mold. These shapes can be further refined.
A neodymium-iron-boron powder developed under 3DREMAG, which is the consortium led by VTT Technical Research Centre, will enable the production of magnets through 3D printing. By making more precise shapes, this process is expected to optimize the process and produce less waste resulting from the conventional cutting and shaping process.
"This research project aims to implement complex, multilayered structures for 3D-printable permanent magnet components. It will enable new features such as segmentation and direct integration which increase the efficiency of electric motors," said Carsten Schuh, Head of the functional materials and manufacturing processes at Siemens Technology, which is involved in 3DREMAG. "This solution can significantly enhance the conscious utilization of scarce materials."
In addition to making the most efficient use of the neodymium, iron, and boron going into these magnets, the 3DREMAG project aims to facilitate the transition to electric mobility by making EVs more efficient.
"In the long run, our goal is to construct a fully 3D printable electric motor that would be approximately 30% lighter than today's motors. Achieving this goal requires multidisciplinary cooperation and combining different technologies," said Joni Reijonen, research scientist and project manager at VTT Technical Research Centre.
With the number of EVs traveling global highways expected to climb from a little more than 10 million vehicles this year to more than 125 million by 2030, 3D printing lighter electric motors could have a significant impact on the e-mobility sector.
The 3DREMAG project has a budget of roughly 1.8 million euros for 2020 and 2021.