As a low-emission drive technology, electromobility is becoming more and more important for a sustainable society. It is vital to optimize the production of electric engines at the same time in order to improve product quality and environmental performance. In the "fabulous" research project, the intention is to introduce new lightweight materials to help reduce the weight of electric engines. The use of these new materials will boost the efficiency of the engines and reduce pollutant emissions from mobility. However, conventional thermoplastic fiber-reinforced plastics that have the required material properties are too cost-intensive for use in large-scale industrial production. The partners in the project are, therefore, developing new materials for the manufacture of rotor components that are more economical and of suitable quality for automotive production.
The "fabulous" project aims to demonstrate that the efficiency of electric drives can be improved by using new materials for the rotor of an electric motor. Rotor components are exposed to high levels of stress from temperature and chemicals such as oils and must therefore have high resistance to these media. To this end, the project partners are developing a new plastic composition based on aliphatic and partially aromatic polyamides (PPA). This so-called PPA compound has high temperature and media resistance and serves as a matrix material for fiber-reinforced unidirectional (UD) tapes to be developed in the course of the project. These can subsequently be used for the manufacture of components to replace the previous heavy-weight metallic components either partially or completely. The UD tapes are processed into "tailored composite blanks" in an automated tape laying process. These tape lay-ups are further processed in shaping and joining processes, such as overmolding, which are also being developed in the project, to form a hybrid component made of fiber-reinforced plastic with purely thermoplastic structures and metallic components. The joining process with the metallic components takes place in parallel with the main production time. Quality assurance is conducted via sensor-based process monitoring, which ensures process robustness and reduces the reject rate.
The process chain being developed in the project covers all manufacturing steps from tape production to the final electric engine. As part of this process, the Fraunhofer IPT is networking the process and quality data of this process chain. When data is fed back into the individual sub-processes, these can be analyzed in the context of the overall process chain, enabling the sub-processes to be coordinated with each other. This can improve product quality, increase process robustness and reduce the reject rate. In addition, the Fraunhofer IPT is further developing its own system and process technology so that the new UD tapes can be processed and joined to metallic components. Both the processes for working with the new fiber composite plastics and the automated process for joining the metallic components with the tape layers will later serve as the basis for further work in the field of hybrid material combinations that can be used for functionalized components.