Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by UT-Battelle LLC for the US Department of Energy, has recently released the news of its research into applying additive manufacturing to replace windings in DC motors.
The basic question is: “Can we 3D print an electric motor”?
The answer that comes from Tennessee in the United States is “Maybe yes for one vital component of it: the rotor”. That possibility holds important promise for better motor performance. Amiee Jackson, researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility has spoken of producing rotors via laser powder bed fusion. The engineer explained that rotors are usually made by winding a conductive alloy; changing the alloy composition to improve motor performance impedes manufacturing, because that change reduces the ductility that is important for winding. So, by offering a way to print the rotor with no winding involved, additive manufacturing potentially solves this problem.