Under the skin: the world's most dense power EV motor

EV motor

3D printing allows an intricate cooling channel to be created inside the engine

UK firm Equipmake used 3D printing to create a super-cool EV engine that is more power-hungry than conventional examples.

It's no secret that less is more when it comes to engineering vehicles, especially when it comes to weight. But this concept also plays an important role in getting rid of lingering unwanted heat in power plants.

The new amp motor generator from the British firm Equipmake is a small and lightweight package that makes very high power. Its low weight, low part inertia, less mass in which excess heat can be stored and all the necessary liquid cooling all contribute to a power-to-weight ratio more than four times that of existing EV motor technology.

The amp is produced using additive manufacturing, which is the industry term for 3D printing using metal powder rather than, say, plastic can be used in a home 3D printer. Manufacture parts by adding only the required material, rather than starting with a casting or a piece of metal and then machine the part, with its unique advantages.

Typical EV motors are classified as low-speed and provide high torque from standstill. Small high speed motors rely on their high RPM to deliver their power, but not getting heat from small, fast enough powerful packages can be a problem.

The use of additive methods developed by Hieta has made it possible to create smaller, thin-walled heat exchangers for use within amperes with more surface area through which to conduct heat from the heat transfer fluid. Engine elements are usually made up of several fused parts formed into one far lighter piece, and these weight savings reduce inertia and allow for much higher revs.

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Amp is the motor's internal permanent magnet, which means its magnets are built into the rotor like the spokes of a wheel. The usual approach is to laminate the magnets to the rotor and use a mounting sleeve to stop them flying, but all this adds weight.

Spokes maximize the effect of magnetic flux and allow coolant to get closer to the magnets than is possible with conventional motors. Cooler magnets are more powerful than hot magnets, so less expensive magnetic material is needed and efficiency is increased.

New additive technologies have taken Equipmake's talking motor vehicle design to new levels, hence the impressive power-to-weight ratio of 295bhp at 30000 rpm from just 10kg. Equipmake claims that this makes it the world's most dense power engine.

Engine power is usually given in two versions. Continuous is what it can produce all day without overheating, while Peak is the maximum it can manage for short periods of time. Because its internal cooling is so efficient, the ampere can run closer to its limits for much longer than conventional motors.

Transferring technology from the track to the road is a vaunted, if sometimes shaky, concept used by manufacturers to justify the huge expense. Equipmake was the supplier of the high-speed flywheel concept used by Williams in Formula 1, so in this case the lessons learned from racing engineering are a really good chance of finding their way into mainstream cars.

Your car can be printed

Major car manufacturers are now using additive manufacturing. Almost all metals that can be welded, including tool steels, aluminum and titanium, can be 3D printed. Below is a conventional Audi engine mount on the left compared to a 3D printed alternative on the right.

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