Powder metal innovation has led to the replacement of conventional materials for many decades. With the continuing advances brought about by the introduction of new materials and improved manufacturing methods, this trend continues to drive new product innovation, and to deliver powder metal’s key benefits: reduced costs, improved performance, and increased design flexibility.

Powder metal components co-developed by Sinteris have contributed to a recent R&D initiative; in this case the customer is a designer and manufacturer of electric motors, generators, power electronics and control systems.

Powder metal component for electric motor

The powder metal advantage strikes again

The customer’s product development objective was to improve the main rotor technology used in direct drive powertrain systems. Previously, the main rotor technology found in the company’s electric motors was based on surface-mounted permanent magnets.

By replacing some of these magnets with soft magnetic powder metal composites (SMC’s), a 45% increase in torque and operating speed was achieved compared with previous technology in same package dimensions. This new design also resulted in a cost reduction compared to the original motor design.

The customer considers the project to be 100% successful: “One of the decisive criteria when selecting a powertrain is how much performance you get for the price, weight and packaging. This new motor design allows us to optimize our direct drive powertrain systems on all of these aspects.”

A collaborative R&D success story

The new rotor technology was developed in-house by the product manufacturer with the support of Canada’s National Research Council and Rio Tinto Metal Powders (RTMP). In turn, RTMP partnered with Sinteris to develop the composite material product manufacturing. This collaborative partnership has made possible the conception and production of an innovative motor design that combines new materials, a new forming process, and an optimized fabrication method.

Sinteris’ longstanding relationship with RTMP was a major factor in the project’s success, says Sinteris president Phil Goodwin. “There was a lot of back-and-forth over a period of several months. RTMP developed a number of powder blends, which we then produced for evaluation by RTMP’s researchers and also by our own engineers. We’ve worked with RTMP for many years, and all parties were able to work much more effectively as a result of that close relationship.”