Hannover Messe 2018 Manufacturing complete electric engines in a 3D printer

Editor: Stefanie Michel |

Researchers at TU Chemnitz use a self-developed 3D-print procedure to manufacture additively the first worldwide electric engine made of iron, copper and ceramics. This innovation is presented by the university at Hannover Messe.

These Statoren of a three-phase compression headless reluctance machine were produced by means of a 3D-multimaterial printer.
These Statoren of a three-phase compression headless reluctance machine were produced by means of a 3D-multimaterial printer.
(Bild: TU Chemnitz/Jacob Müller)

Using metallic and ceramic pastes, which are formed in layers by means of an extrusion procedure and subsequently sintered, researchers of the professorship for electrical energy conversion systems and drive at the Technical University of Chemnitz succeed to print complete electrical engines. “Firstly, we will present this world innovation at Hannover Messe 2018”, said Prof. Ralf Werner, holder of the professorship. His scientific collaborators Johannes Rudolph and Fabian Lorenz had already introduced a 3D-printed coil in the past year, which can withstand temperatures over 300 °C.

Meanwhile, with a self-developed 3D-multimaterial print procedure, they have succeeded to produce all important components of an electrical machine in a print process. Among these are the electrical copper conductor, which, together with iron or, more specifically, iron-containing alloys effect the formation and orientation of the magnetic fields and the electrical insulation from ceramics, which insulates the conductors among one another and against iron parts designated as magnetic circuits.


Goal of the project: higher temperature of usage of electrical machines

“The goal of the project, that lasts around two and a half years, hitherto was to lengthen significantly upwards the limits of the temperature of usage of electrical machines”, Werner reported. The Chemnitz researchers achieve this by replacing the conventional, polymer-based insulation materials with special ceramics, which exhibit a considerably higher temperature resistance. “The permissible development temperature of conventional insulation systems at a maximum of 220 °C can be significantly exceeded, in which the temperature of usage of electrical machines is simply limited by the ferromagnetic properties of iron, which remain up to around 700 °C”, Rudolph added.

In addition to the higher temperature resistance, the ceramic insulation material also exhibits a higher heat conduction. Therefore, the heat loss exhisting in the conductors can be transported away more rapidly. In this manner, the scientists achieve another important goal of their work: the increase of the power density of electrical machines. “Despite of a process-related, somewhat reduced electrical copper conduction, an increase in efficiency is also possible in special applications by significantly reducing the development temperature”, Lorenz added.

3D-print procedure operated with high-viscosity pastes

The basis of the procedure, which the Chemnitz researchers wish to further develop for the marketability, is the layer extrusion of highly viscous pastes. These contain particles of the desired materials, such as iron, copper or ceramics and specially tailored binding agents. In order to achieve the precision essential for the multimaterial print when dispensing the pastes, scientists collaborate closely at Viscotec Pumpen- and Dosiertechnik GmbH in Töging at Inn.

“The engine printed in the laboratory at Chemnitz Uni represents a breakthrough and is simultaneously the proof of principle – hence the proof of concept– for our technology”, Rudolph assured, who substantially co-developed the procedure and together with Lorenz prepared a spin-off company from the university.

The scientists will give a presentation of the current status of their research at Hannover Messe 2018 at the communal booth “Research for the Future” in Hall 2. Rudolph and Lorenz hope to be able to obtain further interest for their new 3D-multimaterial print process there.

TU Chemnitz at Hannover Messe 2018: Hall 2, Status A38

This article was first published on maschinenmarkt.de (German version).