Industrial machinery manufacturers Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI), headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, has bought Massachusetts additive manufacturing developer Persimmon Technologies for ¥3.6 billion ($33 million).

The acquisition will expand Sumitomo’s product lines and explore new opportunities in the electric hybrid motor field as, for example, in steering and brake parts for cars and motorbikes.

A 3D printed electric "Lightrider" bike as demonstrated by the Airbus & APWorks at Formnext. Photo by Michael Petch.

A 3D printed frame on the electric “Lightrider” bike as demonstrated by other enterprises using additive manufacturing: Airbus & APWorks. Photo by Michael Petch.

Smaller, lighter, faster, stronger

In a typical electric motor the winding core is made of laminated silicon steel. This laminated core limits the performance of the motor as it doesn’t allow a current to move in every direction. It also takes multiple steps to make it, hindering the production process. Persimmon Technologies simplifies the traditional method and claim improved performance using a spray-formed 3D printing technique.

Spray-forming from Persimmon makes a winding core from consecutive layers of soft magnetic composite material. The metallic material is sprayed as droplets, making use of micro spaces in-between for insulation and lightness. As explained by Persimmon in a presentation at the 2016 ASME conference in North Carolina, “the spray-formed soft magnetic material enables smaller, lighter motors with higher power output and better energy efficiency.” The actual figures for a spray-formed motor, when compared to a conventionally made electric motor, results in approximately 40% higher power densities, with energy losses up to 15% lower.

A cross section of a prototype hybrid-field motor developed by Persimmon Technologies. Image via Hosek, Krishnasamy, Sah and Bashaw

A cross section of a prototype hybrid-field motor developed by Persimmon Technologies. Image via Hosek, Krishnasamy, Sah and Bashaw

The electric movement 

Long snubbed because of their performance relative to fuel-driven counterparts, electric and electric-hybrid vehicles have risen higher on the list of priorities for many manufacturers. Michigan-headquartered Ford Motor Company are one leading automotive manufacturer taking this electric intiative to heart. With the help of 3D printing, the company are moving towards a greener, smarter future of wireless charging, electric cars.

Self-driving cars are also a popular vision for future vehicles. Some car manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz, are also looking to 3D printing to solve design challenges this type of car.

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Featured image: Looking up through the center of the Sumitomo Building in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. Photo by Chris Brown, zoonabar on Flickr.

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