ExOne and Maxxwell Motors Partner to Design 3D-Printed Copper Windings

The copper e-winding design was developed using binder jet 3D printing and will be used for electric drive systems.

A copper e-winding design created using binder jet 3D printing technology. (Image courtesy of Maxxwell Motors and ExOne.)

A copper e-winding design created using binder jet 3D printing technology. (Image courtesy of Maxxwell Motors and ExOne.)

Binder jet 3D printer developer ExOne revealed that it will be working with Maxxwell Motors, a startup specializing in innovative electric motor and generator design, to create a unique copper e-winding design for axial flux electric motors. This is aimed at eventually powering electric cars as well as heavy-duty vehicles and industrial devices. The two companies have already unveiled the proof of concept, which utilizes ExOne’s binder jet 3D printing technology for the copper e-winding design. According to a press release, this has resulted in higher efficiency compared to traditional copper coil manufacturing methods while eliminating coil wrapping, bending, tooling, and other inefficient process steps.

The manufacturing processes involved for windings are typically expensive and tend to limit design capabilities, subsequently limiting their performance capacity. To address this, ExOne combined its binder jetting solutions with Maxxwell’s expertise in electric motor design and manufacturing. According to Maxxwell, the goal is to binder jet 3D print winding assemblies as a “monolithic piece.” This means that there will no longer be a need to weld individual parts together, improving efficiency while reducing waste and optimizing performance.

“In one of Maxxwell Motor’s patented electric motor designs, the copper coils for the stator winding fully surround the motors to conduct electricity and can be seen in the areas marked 132A and 132B. Approximately 36 coils are used in a standard motor design in each of those areas, but Maxxwell and ExOne aim to consolidate all the coils into a single 3D printed part, saving time and money. When we 3D print it, a lot of the challenges just go away, and we can actually improve the performance of the motor itself,” shared Maxxwell CEO Michael Paritee.

Optimized copper windings and rotors in electric motors present an opportunity to accelerate the transition to hybrid and pure electric power vehicles. However, costly manufacturing methods still pose a hurdle to making this a reality. The innovative concept proposed by ExOne and Maxxwell could potentially overcome some challenges associated with the traditional manufacturing of e-windings such as energy utilization and material waste. Besides increasing the efficiency and performance of parts, the companies have also stressed the affordability of high-speed binder jet 3D printing technology.

ExOne’s binder jet 3D printing solutions have already been used in a variety of applications within the automotive sector. Manufacturing service provider FreeFORM Technologies leveraged the ExOne Innovent+ to produce a lightweight robotics end-of-arm tooling attachment in replacement of a traditional metal SLS system. The attachment was able to deliver high-volume precision inspection with varying weight requirements.

ExOne has been expanding its lineup over the past six months with a number of acquisitions, the most recent of which is Freshmade 3D’s AMClad assets, as well as launching its Metal Designlab 3D printer. The company is already planning to work on various new projects alongside the likes of Ford to develop a new aluminum binder jetting process, and Celwise for 3D-printed tooling wood-based materials. Both technologies are expected to be included in Desktop Metal’s portfolio once the acquisition has been completed.

For more information, visit the official website for Maxxwell Motors and ExOne.