A commitment to an electrified future
So far, the only company that has made additive manufacturing of electric motors a core business is Additive Drives GmbH. Car manufacturer Ford plans to enter game as it is part of a consortium that will investigate new production processes for the next-generation of electric motors. Other partners include Thyssenkrupp System Engineering, RWTH Aachen University’s 3D-printing and product engineering departments, and electric motor experts, Engiro.
Named HaPiPro2, the name of the research project refers to the hairpin technology used in the wire‑winding inside the e-motor assemblies. Hairpin technology is a key area of innovation in electric-drive systems, and the HaPiPro2 research will investigate how to exploit its potential to enable the efficient production of multiple e-motors variations on a single production line.
The 36-month public-funded project therefore ambitions to develop future-facing products and new processes that will form the foundation for various European manufacturers to play a leading global role in the mass-production of electric vehicle components.
All partners will be working together at Ford’s Cologne-Niehl plant, in Germany. Furthermore, additive manufacturing will play a key role in the development of these flexible, scalable and new production methods that manufacturers plan to use for future e-motor components along a single production line.
In this vein, Ford will lead the development of new laser-based methods for joining the copper hairpin contacts, and research the use of artificial intelligence tools for process control.
As for the other consortium partners, let’s note that the Digital Additive Production department from RWTH Aachen University will share its 3D printing expertise to develop tooling for the production line and explore further opportunities for additive manufacturing in the production process.
Ensuring sustainability will also be a key deliverable for the consortium, with a closed-loop approach ensuring that maintenance, re-use and re-cycling of e-motor components will be considered alongside initial manufacture.
“The main objective of the HaPiPro2 project is about more than the efficient design of the e‑motor itself, but about developing variant flexibility when producing it,” said Prof. Achim Kampker, Production Engineering of E-Mobility Components (PEM), RWTH Aachen University. “The PEM at RWTH Aachen University will contribute its expertise in application-oriented research to the overall hairpin process chain, as well as the analysis of cause-effect relationships and the testing of digital methods within production planning.”
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