Upscaling the production of new 3D-printed rare earth permanent magnets
VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is leading a European consortium 3DREMAG which is developing a new material suitable for 3D printing of permanent magnets, which can be utilised in electric and hybrid vehicle motors. 3DREMAG is developing a new material suitable for 3D printing of permanent magnets, which can be utilised in electric and hybrid vehicle motors. The consortium is truly pan-European, the leading research institutes are joined with both large and medium scale industries.
The aim in the long run is to develop a fully 3D printable electric motor, one that would be approximately 30% lighter than today’s motors. The new permanent magnet material being developed for this purpose will promote cleaner traffic and help reduce the environmental impact of traffic.
Traffic is the world’s second largest source of climate emissions and requires new sustainable solutions. By the end of 2020, the global number of electric cars will exceed 10 million. It is expected to reach 125 million by 2030.
More than 90% of electric vehicle motors are based on permanent magnets, which provide high power in small volume. Unlike electromagnets which require continuous electrical current in order to maintain their magnetism, permanent magnets do not require an external magnetic field. The strongest permanent magnets are based on a combination of neodymium, iron and boron (Nd-Fe-B).
Today, the production of fully dense permanent magnets is limited to simple shapes. The Nd-Fe-B powder developed under the 3DREMAG project will enable the production of magnets through 3D printing. 3D printing can be used to optimize the size of magnets and to improve resource efficiency. This is important because neodymium is a rare raw material with limited availability.
The powder under development is the first permanent magnet material customised for 3D printing
Nd-Fe-B powder can be used to produce fully dense metallic and resource-efficient permanent magnets for electric and hybrid vehicle motors, electric bicycles and consumer electronics, as well as for wind turbine generators.
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.
Joni Reijonen, Research Scientist and Project Manager at VTT
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. This solution can significantly enhance the conscious utilization of scarce materials.
Carsten Schuh, Head of the Siemens Technology Unit “Functional Materials and Manufacturing Processes”
The 3DREMAG project has fantastic potential to improve speed and agility in the design of electric vehicles. By introducing additive manufacturing of permanent magnets, 3DREMAG also helps saving rare earth elements, which are among of the most critical raw materials for the EU economy.
Olli Salmi, Innovation Hub Baltic Sea Director at EIT RawMaterials