Project duration: 1 January 2020 – 31 December 21

Objective

3DREMAG aims to up-scale and introduce to the market a 3D printable NdFeB powder. NdFeB magnets contain around 30 wt-% of Nd and Dy, both classified as critical raw materials by the EU. The developed powder enables 3D printing of optimized magnet configurations for e-drives needed in future mobility applications with reduced waste. This will be the first high performance spherical NdFeB powder in the market tailored for use in 3D printing.

The solution (technology)

Over million electric vehicles (EV) were sold in 2017, an increase of 54 % compared to 2016, resulting in a total EV fleet of over 3 million units. IEA forecasts a growth from 3 to 125 million EVs by 2030. Permanent magnets are key components for high power density e-drives needed in future mobility. The used high performance Rare-Earth (RE) magnets of today contain significant amount of critical raw materials (CRMs) (Nd, Pr, Dy, Tb, Sm, Co). Heavy reliance on CRMs is a severe cost, availability and sustainability issue for e-drives based on permanent magnet technology.

The aim of 3DREMAG project is to upscale and introduce to the market a new NdFeB powder better suited for 3D printing technology. The objective is to reduce the use of CRMs in electrical machinery by 3D printing. However, the available NdFeB powders used in polymer-bonded or sintered magnets are not designed for use in 3D printing.

Wohlers reports 45 % growth in 3D printing metal powder sales in 2017 to 183 M$ and there is growing demand for functional materials aimed for the growing market. Compared to powders used for state-of-the-art sintered magnets, a powder tailored for 3D printing requires spherical particles with specific size distribution. Further, the alloy composition can be tailored to reach fine-grained microstructure improving magnetic properties. 3D printing allows near-net-shape manufacturing of complex magnet shapes, avoiding significant machining waste during conventional manufacture of the final shape from sintered magnet blocks. Performance of e-drives can be increased while minimizing use of CRMs as 3D printing enables optimized magnet system configurations to be designed and manufactured. This accelerates the uptake of e-mobility as cost and sustainability issues related CRMs are reduced. Our approach helps to maintaining sufficiency of CRM resources while the demand increases due to growth in e-mobility.

Partnership

  • Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. VTT (Lead Partner), Finland
  • French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, France
  • EIT Raw Materials GmbH, Germany
  • Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V. (Fraunhofer), Germany
  • Less Common Metals, United Kingdom
  • Siemens AG, Germany
  • Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany
  • Tekna Plasma Europe SAS, France