Elkem, a leading global supplier of silicon-based materials, has developed a specialized iron-silicon powder in an EU-funded project together with research and customer partners. This powder could revolutionize the 3D printing of components for electric motors.
The SOMA project (Lightweight solutions for e-mobility by AM for soft magnetic alloys) was carried out by Elkem in collaboration with partners VTT (coordinator), Siemens, Stellantis and Gemmate Technologies. The newly developed powder is characterized by its soft magnetic properties, which means that it is easy to magnetize and demagnetize – an important prerequisite for electric motors. The powder is produced in a small-scale atomizer at Future Materials, Norwegian Catapult Centre in Kristiansand.
The powder has already been used to 3D print components for electric motors and to evaluate the quality and manufacture of demonstration devices. The 3D printing work and qualification of the parts was carried out at VTT in Finland and Siemens in Germany.
“This is a project with potential to transform motor parts manufacturing. We have successfully created a new specialised powder with good printability based on silicon-steel (with additives). 3D-printed components show enhanced ductility and competitive magnetic properties,” said Tomi Lindroos at VTT.
One end use case was the production of a motor for an electric scooter. This use case was supported by modeling from Gemmate Technologies and VTT, which offers new design possibilities for electric motor components.
“The powder developed in the SOMA project will now be introduced to the market by Elkem for evaluating the product for future commercial production. The product is currently available in small test volumes,” said Jan Ove Odden, Project leader at Elkem.
In a world that is increasingly turning to sustainable transportation methods, electrification has become a key priority for car manufacturers, governments and consumers. Elkem will continue to offer silicon-based products for mobility and transportation.
The three-year project, which started on 01.01.2021, was supported by EIT Raw Materials and funded by the EU with a total project budget of over 5.6 million euros.