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Project aims to develop lightweight motors using plastics

23 July, 2013

German researchers have embarked on a three-year collaborative project aimed at improving the power-to-weight ratios of electric motors by incorporating lightweight materials such as fibre-reinforced plastics.

The aim of the €3.3m Prolemo project is to establish the process chain needed to produce a demonstration motor, including the rotor, stator and housing with integrated cooling.

The motors will be targeted at vehicle applications, where achieving a high power output from a lightweight motor will help to reduce energy consumption. While techniques for building lightweight car bodies are already well established, the new project will focus on reducing the weight of the motors.

The project is being coordinated by Wittenstein Cyber Motor, which specialises in high-performance, permanently excited synchronous motors. An injection moulding specialist, Arburg, will work on alternative materials for motor components, while cutting and fibre deposition work will be performed using lasers and milling machines supplied by Index-Werke. Aumann will be responsible for developing the processes and machines to manufacture the motor’s coils.

Researchers from the Institute of Production Science and the Institute of Vehicle System Technology at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) will develop components made from fibre composites.

“New materials have to be integrated into the motors,” explains Manuel Peter from KIT. “Moreover, production of motor components has to be simplified.” To achieve this, the Prolemo project partners will pursue an interdisciplinary approach.

The project is being supported by €1.7m of funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economics.

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