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Production Method for Ironless Electric Motors

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Producing lightweight, energy-efficient electric motors at scale

The use of a state-of-the-art fibre printing production line means lightweight ironless electric motors for drones can be produced at scale and at a lower cost.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Uncrewed autonomous vehicles (UAVs), or drones, are the future of transportation and logistics. But, without access to the right components today, they will remain stuck in the future. One of those components is electric motors. “Conventional iron-core electric motors are currently the gold standard in millions of applications,” says Knut Nielsen, co-founder of Alva Industries, a company specialising in next-generation electric motor technology. “Although these motors are cheap to manufacture and can be produced in high volumes, they are also heavy, which can impact a drone’s efficiency.” With the support of the EU-funded PROMINEL project, Alva has advanced the production of what are called ironless electric motors, a lighter engine offering the same output as their iron-core counterparts.

Metal-strength properties at a fraction of the weight

Market uptake of ironless electric motors has been limited because they are expensive to manufacture. “The PROMINEL project focused on developing a new production technology for producing our lightweight, energy-efficient electric motors at scale,” explains Nielsen. Alva Industries used the EU funding to conduct internal R&D, which ultimately allowed them to create a prototype fibre printing production line. “The use of fibre printing is a game changer in manufacturing,” notes Nielsen. “It allows us to efficiently achieve metal-strength properties at just a fraction of the weight – and costs.” The prototype line was used to successfully demonstrate how the new technology can be used at an industrial scale. Based on this demo, the company implemented a complete, state-of-the-art production line with proprietary production machinery into its production facility in Norway.

The future starts today

According to Nielsen, the project allowed the start-up to reduce the technical risks typically associated with scaling up production technology. It also opened new doors to capital and being able to deliver the first commercial products to customers. “We developed some seriously cool technology,” says Nielsen. “I can’t wait to see how it will perform in an operational environment here in our production facility, where we are just starting to ship our first batches of UAV propulsion systems to our clients.” Alva plans to scale up production and grow its output, with the goal of being able to etch out a niche in the competitive UAV motor market. The company is also actively pursuing several other verticals where its production technology and products can be competitive and deliver value. But for now, Nielsen says the company remains laser-focused on making the best products and solutions for UAV propulsion. “The production process we developed during the PROMINEL project will fundamentally change how ironless electric motors are made, helping make the use of UAVs for transportation and logistics a reality today.”

Keywords

PROMINEL, technology, electric motors, fibre printing, ironless electric motors, drones, Uncrewed Autonomous Vehicles, UAVs, manufacturing, propulsion systems

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