Electric motor design is about more than just reducing cost -- it’s about the chance to get innovative and exceed performance expectations.
If you’re already experimenting with new electric motor solutions that are a little "different,” consider incorporating powder metallurgy (PM) into your plan. Whether you’re looking for electric motor efficiency or cost reduction, chances are a PM solution exists.
Use this hub as a resource for understanding the advantages of powder metallurgy for motor applications vs. competing technologies like electrical steel laminations. Below you can learn more about the untapped potential powder metallurgy holds for motor makers -- and how you can use it to push the boundaries of your design.
Using powder metal parts to cut costs is nothing new. Using powder metal components to further the “electrification” of transportation and other electromagnetic applications is the new frontier for driving performance and cost-efficiency to new heights.
In the case of transportation, these opportunities go far beyond the traditional automobile. Powder metallurgy processes and materials are seeing more use in:
Powder metal materials and processes can optimize both AC and DC motors -- everything from axial flux motors to magnetic torque tunnels. Basically, anything that needs to be small and efficient needs to include metal powder parts.
In the race to innovate, electric motor designers no longer need a “good enough” solution, they need a great solution. Powder metallurgy’s benefits go hand in hand with cutting-edge design.
How can Horizon help you brainstorm a solution? Share your design challenges via the form, and an expert engineer will get back to you shortly.
Fran Hanejko is an industry-leading expert who works with Horizon as our Senior Advanced Materials Engineer. Fran has decades of experience in powder metallurgy, including managing customer applications for a world-leading raw material supplier. He graduated from Drexel University in 1974 with a master’s degree in materials engineering.
Contact Fran with your materials questions by filling out the form on this page.
Different branches of powder metallurgy (PM) materials have very different design considerations. It’s a fact of life for PM manufacturers but sometimes a hard lesson for the OEM buyer/engineer.
In powder metallurgy, there are two branches of magnetic materials. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say that one serves DC electromagnetic applications, and the other AC.
Soft magnetic composites (SMCs) are an excellent, energy-efficient option for AC electromagnetic applications. However, they're not suitable for DC components because they lack the rapid magnetic response of sintered materials. By the same token, sintered soft magnetic materials are unsuitable for AC applications because they generate significant heat and core losses.
(If your project calls for an AC machine, refer to Part 1 of this series, where we explored designing for manufacturability for soft magnetic composites.)
As an engineer tasked with bringing your product into the future, you probably have many decisions to make when choosing the motor design of your AC project.
The most common applications of electrical motors fall into two main categories -- axial flux motors vs. radial flux motors. There’s also a third category -- transverse flux motors -- but this configuration is not as widespread (yet).
For decades, radial flux motors were the most common solution. However, for reasons we’ll discuss below, axial flux machines are becoming the standard for AC motor quality.
“Conventional” sintering is synonymous with structural powder metallurgy components.
The majority of today’s powder metal parts are sintered at 2050° in a nitrogen-hydrogen atmosphere. This has proven satisfactory for legacy applications, and will remain “good enough” for many future applications.
With the ongoing “electrification” of transportation, many engineers are leaving the world of “good enough.”