Interview with EV Tech Insider
We recently had the opportunity to give an in-depth interview about us and our products to the trade magazine EV Tech Insider. Read the complete article here:
What are the advantages of using 3D-printed motors compared to conventional manufacturing?
One: Design freedom. A better design simply means a better engine. With 3D printing, you can test and improve important properties such as thermal performance, winding topologies, insulation material, etc. Ultimately, we achieve up to 45 % higher power densities compared to conventional production.
Two: Rapid time to market and lower prices per unit. Whether axial or radial flux, our 3D printed motors have the shortest time to market in the entire industry. As no complex tooling is required to manufacture the motors, the costs per unit are reduced. With 3D printing, we can offer our customers customised electric motors in any quantity. The development of electric motors has never been easier, especially for customers with high requirements but small quantities.
3D printing produces engines that can be manufactured more easily, better, cheaper and faster.
We’re split into two units:
One unit is dedicated to prototyping. We’re by far the quickest time to market in the entire EV industry when it comes to motor production, no matter if it’s axial or radial flux, that’s about being quicker and cheaper than conventional manufacturing.
The other unit works on series manufacturing, and it’s all about customized electric motors. We develop the specific electric motor that is perfectly matched to their needs. For example, high-performance electric motors with power densities of over 25 kW/kg for customers in the aviation industry or large air-cooled asynchronous machines with efficiencies of over 96%.
Our key value proposition: customized electric motors from production volume 1 to 100,000, that’s what we’re currently targeting. Our main product is customized EV traction motors, but we also offer motors for other kinds of mobility as well from e-bikes to multi-megawatt applications in aviation, for example, and also industrial applications such as robotics or general pump or fan applications.
Our applications are widespread, we stay technology agnostic about all kinds of motor technologies.
How does 3D printing allow for better thermal performance?
We always say the best way of cooling is to tackle the AC losses. It’s a huge challenge, but we’re able to improve it in a few ways.
Wire insulation is one of the key challenges for EV motors regarding cooling, lifetime, partial discharge use in aviation, etc. Because it’s such an important piece of the puzzle, we’re constantly designing and testing new insulation materials that enable higher copper filling factors. We have a strategic partnership with material manufacturer Daikin Chemical to develop primary insulation and have a number of ideas on the horizon that will enable thinner insulation, better oil compatibility and a longer service life, thereby improving engine efficiency.
We’re also designing new wire technologies, including our patended NextPin technology, which significantly reduces AC losses. The idea behind it is an innovative conductor technology that combines the advantages of two worlds: the copper fill factor and the processing of solid conductors or hairpins with the high-frequency properties of litz wires. By using NextPin technology in automotive, for example, energy savings of up to 50% can be achieved on long journeys.
When we optimize electric motors, we take a very close look at the conductor structure. Not only can we achieve more efficient designs through the targeted use of 3D printing, as we are not limited by bending radii or tools, but we can also build special features into the conductors, such as cooling integrated into the conductor. Depending on customer requirements, we can also produce conductors made of aluminum, for example, and the entire development process is open to all technologies.
NVH is always a big topic for motor engineers. Do you have any properties about your motors in regards to NVH? Has that improved at all with your technology?
To handle NVH, it’s important to optimize the wiring of the stator and create a sinusoidal air gap field. The effort behind such a circuit is often associated with high costs in conventional production. Our innovative processes make it easy to deal with this. Reducing NVH problems not only lowers the noise level but also increases the service life and efficiency, which is why we are always addressing this issue.
What sort of material formulations are you using, and do you see any new formulations coming soon?
We only use 3D printing when it makes technological sense. There have already been attempts to print complete motors in the past, all of which failed due to the high costs and, in some cases, poorer efficiency than a conventional electric motor.
We differentiate between the sheet metal packages, conductor structures, and the housing. For example, it can make sense to print a housing because a special geometry helps to optimize cooling. Aluminum alloys are usually used here. The material development of copper and aluminum is now so advanced that the printed materials can have better material properties than, for example, a drawn copper wire, as cold forming no longer takes place.
We monitor the market very closely so that we can always offer our customers the best possible solution.
What type of customers are you gaining traction with?
We’re working with several large manufacturers, many EV OEMs, Tier-1’s in Germany, and many more coming from the US. We also have a rising customer base in non-automotive applications such as aviation. Formula One is also interesting for us, especially surrounding their new regulations in 2026.
There are countless applications that require more efficient, customisable motors with maximum performance.
Currently, motors take a lot of time to develop and manufacture. Our experienced team has felt the pain firsthand of getting motors to the test bench and into vehicles, in long month-long or year-long iterations, which is too long.
That’s why we founded Additive Drives, to help manufacturers shorten their time to market with better technology.
What are the electric aviation projects you’re working on?
The eVTOL market is just growing and developing, but we’re seeing huge potential from our results. There are a unique set of challenges and requirements when compared to automotive, for instance in functional safety and fail operation.
What happens when your car motor breaks down? You pull over to the side of the road, and that’s it. In an eVTOL, that becomes quite a dangerous situation. Our designs integrate functional safety approaches, such as redundant winding systems combined with our new insulation materials.
eVTOLs also require very high power density, and we just launched a new application exceeding 25 kilowatts per kilogram of continuous power. It’s all about keeping the eVTOL safe and making a fair trade between power and weight in these instances.
Electrification is also used in many other areas, such as construction, agriculture and mobile machinery. In these applications, our motors can be much more efficient than the current hydraulic solutions. Electric drives enable simple control of various systems or, for example, recuperation during cyclical work, such as in excavators. Boost solutions, such as those used in Formula 1, or hybrids are also possible. There are already attempts to transfer the electrical power of tractors to attachments, for example, and thus develop more efficient overall systems. The requirements for installation space and power density are almost the same as in aviation and we’re currently pushing the limits in these industries too.
Have you found a lot of success in the high-performance market?
Although we see high-volume production as one of our key propositions, we are working with a few high-performance customers, especially for our motors with over 25 kilowatts per kilogram.
We achieve this by focusing on the optimization of the rotor and stator unit as the primary loss components, along with the windings. Better cooling, better winding topologies, new insulation material, and in the end, a lot of design freedoms we have due to our manufacturing process, unlocked by 3D printing. By combining these, we are achieving up to 45% higher power densities compared to conventional manufacturing.
There is no single key technology, but a combination of different technologies that lead to higher power densities and efficiencies. We combine years of experience in e-motor development with unique expertise in innovative manufacturing.
Anything else that stands out about 3D printing that’s a huge advantage?
Of course, you don’t have any tooling costs. For small-volume production, we can enable super-complex windings without any kind of tooling. We’re talking about 12 conductors per slot, 16 conductors per slot in hairpin design, which would be extremely difficult to manufacture conventionally.
What are some of the questions engineers typically ask your team?
At the end of the day, whether we’re manufacturing conventionally or with 3D printing, it’s all about what our best friend, the test bench, says.
Typically, the main doubt of every engineer is whether our material will have the same properties as conventionally manufactured motors. Engineers also ask about the insulation properties. We’re exceeding expectations in both of these areas.
I want to be very frank. Everybody knows that 3D printing is an expensive process. We use 3D printing as a targeted tool precisely when it is necessary and useful to fulfill the requirements of an application. The same applies to the use of high-performance materials and technology approaches: not every technology from aviation or motorsport can be integrated into a road vehicle or an industrial engine.
We always pursue the goal of realizing the customer’s requirements in an economically viable way. This creates a significant benefit for the customers in series manufacturing approaches. Our current focus, as I mentioned, is between 1 to 100,000 units, but our upcoming manufacturing methods will bring this number even higher.
What’s the vision for Additive Drives?
Our mission is to simplify electrification. Several new manufacturers are designing from the ground up, for instance in the heavy-duty and aviation industries. A lot of these companies are designing their first powertrain systems, and we work side-by-side with them to develop their motors with the highest possible performance and efficiency.
Around one-third of the world’s energy is currently used in electric motors, and we want to develop an entirely new generation of sustainable high-performance motors to impact the planet.
We want to become not only the world market leader for pre-printed electric motors but all customized electric motors, which is not on the table for many manufacturers now because they’re all focused on big series manufacturing. In the short term, we are working on quantities of 1-100,000 units for industries such as the off-highway sector, which usually comprises around 3,000 units per year.