AMS Spring 2023

Additive Drives to 3D Print Better Electric Engines with AM Ventures Investment


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German electric motor components company Additive Drives GmbH has received a “seven-digit seed investment from AM Ventures.” Presumably, that would mean that they got at least a €10,000.10 investment? Or perhaps they mean that they got an investment of at least €1 million? Or perhaps it could have been €9 million, or maybe nearly €10, although that seems a bit much for a seed investment. Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that they were clearer on the term sheet than the press release.

The primary goal of Additive Drives is to 3D print copper coils, the key part of electric motors, with marketable products next year. The company points out that manufacturing prototypes for electric motors can take up to seven months, due to the making and setting up of complex winding tools needed for the process. 3D printing, however, can yield copper prototypes in just a few days, speeding up test cycles and market maturity time. In tandem with a production network, the entire electric motor can be prototyped in just a short period of time. According to Additive Drives co-founder Axel Helm, the firm is able to achieve 100% electrical conductivity based on the International Annealed Copper Standard.

Additive Drives achieves this 100% conductivity through 3D printing hairpins, copper bars, instead of winding wires. They can do this for radial flow, axial flow, and cross flow motors. The company was aided by TU Bergakademie Freiberg and Saxeed. Additive Drives has some public use cases including a motor component for a formula student car. They’ve also made parts for a pedelec (higher speed electric bike). The company also states that engines can be customized in a batch size of one.

I’m immensely excited by Additive Drives. We knew that copper 3D printing would open up new applications in heat sinks, braising and engines and the commercial value here is astounding. If slight optimizations in performance could be had through 3D printing copper windings, the effects for engine and vehicle companies will be immense. Just a slightly more efficient engine would have big effects on mileage and the value of the entire vehicle.

With a myriad of electric engines coming to market through many different kinds of one-person electrical transport, e-bikes, cars, trucks, and boats, Additive Drives’ technology could be applied to many of them. What’s more the company could make one engine manufacturer or component supplier much more competitive by significantly shortening their time to market. Of course, this will need to be borne out into production. Is this technology viable for the millions of electric cars being made? Would it work, in terms of cost, in a smaller vehicle, or will it only make sense in high-performance applications?

Additive Drives is to use the new investment funds to launch a product and scale the business and get to “prototyping, high-performance series applications” to take “electric machines to unexpected levels of performance and efficiency” with 3D printing. Through that prototyping, gains are imagined. At the same time, “application-optimized geometries can be realized for series applications, which are not feasible with conventional manufacturing. Performance increases of up to 45% can be realized.”

Arno Held, Chief Venture Officer at AM Ventures, said of the investment:

“Additive manufacturing is becoming more mature and is increasingly opening up applications that are revolutionizing entire industries. Additive Drives is a perfect example of this. With dramatically accelerated development times and massive improvements in weight, volume and performance, this product will contribute to electrifying not only motor sports, aviation and micro-mobility,” says Arno Held, Chief Venture Officer at AM Ventures.

Dr. Jakob Jung, CEO of Additive Drives, added:

“Since our foundation in July 2020 we have successfully entered the automotive market. Our vision is to halve the development time for electric motors and to expand our technological leadership in additive-manufactured electric motors”.

AM Ventures is a great company to have on board as an investor because it is owned by the family behind polymer and metals sintering giant EOS, giving you an enormous amount of expertise on tap. The depth of knowledge in EOS as an organization and in the EOS ecosystem is significant and useful. AM Ventures is therefore in and of itself an imprimatur that someone is doing something interesting.

The firm is sitting pretty on an incredible value proposition on a market full of established entrants that is exploding in volume, this will be an exciting startup to watch.

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