Our team of experts answer your most asked questions.
Frequently asked questions
PCB Stator Motor Technology
What are the origins of PCB Stator electric motor technology?
The invention of the PCB (printed circuit board) Stator motor is not attributed to a single individual. Instead, the development of PCB Stator motors is part of the broader evolution of motor and electronics technology. However, a number of the unique PCB Stator innovations utilized by ECM were invented and patented by ECM CTO, Dr. Steven Shaw— who has been the driving force behind advances in ECM’s disruptive technology.
What is a printed circuit board stator?
A PCB Stator, also known as a Printed Circuit Board Stator, is a type of stator used in brushless DC (BLDC) motors and electric machines. The stator is one of the main components in an electric motor that remains stationary and contains coils of wire (windings) that generate a magnetic field when an electrical current is applied. This magnetic field interacts with the rotor, causing it to rotate and generate mechanical motion. In a PCB Stator motor, the stator windings are not wound with traditional copper wire; instead, they are directly printed onto a printed circuit board (PCB). This design offers several advantages.
PCB Stator motors become central components to electrical systems across multiple verticals, including HVAC, Consumer Electronics, E-Mobility, Robotics, and Defense and Aerospace.
How are copper windings different in PCB stator motors compared to traditional electric motors?
Copper windings in PCB Stator motors differ from those in traditional electric motors primarily in their construction and placement. The key differences include:
In conventional electric motors, such as induction motors or brushed DC motors, the copper windings are wound in a coil-like fashion around the stator core. This winding process involves creating multiple turns of copper wire to form the stator windings. In PCB Stator motors, the copper windings are not wound with traditional wire. Instead, they are directly printed onto a printed circuit board (PCB). This process involves etching copper traces onto the PCB to create the stator windings. This printed winding design eliminates the need for the labor-intensive coil winding process used in traditional motors.
Copper windings in traditional motors are integrated into the stator core and typically consist of coils wound over the stator’s laminated iron core. In PCB Stator motors, the copper windings are an integral part of the PCB, and the stator core is often made from a different material, such as glass or composite materials. The PCB design allows for precise and efficient placement of the windings.
- Size and Weight:
Copper windings in traditional motors can add weight and size to the motor due to the coil winding process and the use of a larger iron core. PCB Stator motors are known for their compactness and lightweight design since the copper windings are printed directly on a thin PCB. This reduces the overall size and weight of PCB Stator motors.
Compared to conventional machines, PCB Stator motors can offer higher efficiency due to the precision of the printed windings and ability to change the shape of the traces in different parts of the board.
What type of motor is a PCB Stator electric motor?
A PCB Stator electric motor is a permanent magnet, axial flux, synchronous, brushless DC (BLDC) motor. BLDC motors are characterized by the absence of brushes and a commutator, which are commonly found in brushed DC motors. Instead, BLDC motors use electronic commutation through the motor controller to achieve precise control of the motor’s speed and direction. PCB Stator motors are a specific design variation of BLDC motors, with the stator windings printed directly on a printed circuit board (PCB). This design provides advantages in terms of compactness, weight savings, and efficiency, making them suitable for various applications, particularly those with size constraints or a need for high energy efficiency. The magnetic field generated by the stator windings interacts with permanent magnets on the rotor, resulting in the rotation of the motor.
Is a PCB Stator motor axial flux or radial flux?
PCB Stator motors typically utilize an axial flux design. This means that the magnetic flux is parallel to the motor’s rotor shaft, resulting in a compact and efficient motor design that is well-suited for a wide range of applications. Axial flux PCB Stator motors are commonly used in applications such as HVAC, robotics, electric vehicles, and other devices where a compact and efficient motor solution is required.
What type of magnets are utilized in PCB stator motors?
PCB Stator motors typically utilize permanent magnets as part of their motor design. These permanent magnets are essential for generating the magnetic field required for motor operation. The most common types of magnets used in PCB Stator motors include:
- Neodymium (NdFeB) Magnets: Neodymium magnets are known for their high magnetic strength and are widely used in many motor applications. They offer strong magnetic fields in a compact size, making them suitable for more compat motors..
- Ferrite (Ceramic) Magnets: Ferrite magnets, also known as ceramic magnets, are another type of permanent magnet used in some PCB Stator motors. They are less expensive than neodymium magnets and offer good magnetic properties, however they are roughly 1/3 the strength of neodymium magnets.
The choice of magnet type depends on various factors, including the motor’s design requirements, cost considerations, and the specific application.
What is the speed range for PCB Stator motors?
The speed range of PCB Stator motors can vary widely depending on design and intended application. PCB stator motors can be optimized to operate at various speeds, from low to high rotational speeds. The specific speed range for a PCB Stator motor depends on factors such as the motor’s size, voltage, the type of magnets used, and the control system employed. In general, PCB Stator motors can be engineered to achieve a wide range of speeds, making them suitable for various applications. Some PCB Stator motors may have a lower speed range, ideal for applications requiring precise and slow movements, while others can reach higher speeds suitable for tasks that demand rapid rotation. The exact speed range can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the application in which the motor is employed.
- ECM’s current technological readiness allows for solutions ranging from 0 to 30,000 RPM.
- R&D efforts are underway to expand the available range.
What is the power range for PCB Stator motors?
The power range for PCB Stator motors can vary widely depending on the specific design and intended application. PCB Stator motors are available in a broad range of power ratings, and their capabilities can be customized to suit different requirements.
- ECM’s current technological readiness allows for solutions ranging from 4W to 20kW.
- R&D efforts are underway to expand the available range.
What are the advantages of PCB Stator motors?
PCB Stator motors offer extensive advantages, including compactness, high efficiency, weight savings, customization, improved heat dissipation, reduced eddy current losses, and enhanced overall energy efficiency. These benefits make them ideal for advanced applications across a range of industries.
Are PCB Stator motors sustainable?
In short, yes. PCB Stator motors are sustainable due to their high efficiency, which reduces energy consumption. Additionally, the reduction in material usage and compact design can contribute to sustainability goals by minimizing resource usage.
ECM motors require up to 70% less raw materials and are up to 70% lighter than traditionally wound machines. Motors with PCB Stators eliminate the need for the wire winding and iron laminations used in conventional motors and generators, and PrintStator has the ability to optimize copper use in its designs to further reduce raw material requirements
The carbon footprint of ECM’s PCB Stator machines is further reduced by the opportunity to recycle permanent magnets.
Permanent magnets, if properly cared for, only lose about 1% of their magnetism every 100 years. At the end of an ECM’s motor’s lifecycle, it can be dismantled, and the magnets removed for re-use in other PCB Stator motor applications.
What applications benefit from PCB Stator motors?
PCB Stator motors are well-suited for a broad spectrum of applications, particularly those requiring high efficiency and a compact design. They are especially well-suited for scenarios that demand smooth motion, quiet operation, low vibration, and cater to special integration needs.
Common applications include robotics, HVAC, electric vehicles, medical devices, industrial automation, aerospace and defense, renewable energy and consumer electronics.
What are the size and weight differences of PCB Stator motors vs. traditional electric motors?
PCB Stator motors are typically smaller and lighter compared to traditional electric motors with copper windings. The specific differences vary depending on the application and design, but PCB Stator motors generally offer size and weight savings due to their compact design and efficient use of materials.
What is the efficiency of PCB Stator motors?
PCB Stator motors are renowned for their high efficiency, although the exact percentage can vary based on design and application. It’s crucial to underscore that the percentage is customized to meet customer requirements rather than being solely dictated by the design and application. With PrintStator, we can optimize efficiency to your specifications.
In numerous instances, ECM’s motors exceed 90%, presenting a significant advantage in terms of energy conservation and minimized heat generation. Notably, several of our motor designs reach an impressive maximum efficiency of 94%, and many of our motor designs achieve the prestigious IE5 efficiency class.
How are ECM’s PCB Stator motors cooled?
ECM motors are cooled via patented thermal features that effectively pull heat from the stator to the case where it can be rejected to ambient.
The active area of ECM’s stators (which produces torque and is covered by magnets) is the area between the inner and outer via rings. The copper traces that you see outside the outer end turns are inactive. While they are not hollow, we call these traces “heat pipes.” They use copper to conduct the heat from the center of the stator to the outside edge, where the stator is clamped into the case and can be rejected to ambient. These stator heat pipes also function in the Z direction to distribute the heat to the top and bottom layer of the board.
Who manufactures PCB Stator motors?
Anyone can manufacture PCB Stator motors.
ECM is an electric motor design and software company that uses Motor CAD and SaaS to enable our clients to leverage advanced PCB Stator technology. ECM offers our PrintStator design platform as a service and has partnered with several contract manufacturers to produce PCB Stator motors for the end client. The simplified build of ECM’s technology also offers the opportunity for clients to vertically integrate and manufacture their own custom solutions.
Does ECM have patents on PCB Stators?
ECM has 14 unique patents across several components of the PCB Stator motor including copper geometries, thermal dynamics, and build characteristics. Please contact ECM’s team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on patents.
What are the benefits and advantages of using E-Circuit Motor compared to other machines?
For low-power applications, the ECM machine offers distinct efficiency and noise advantages over typical capacitor-start induction machines. Relative to BLDC motors, the advantages are durability of the windings, lack of cogging torque for applications using turn-down, and efficiency. The efficiency advantage is due to the lack of iron loss. Enhanced efficiency and turn-down capability may translate to systems-level improvements such as smaller connected equipment, reduced peak loads, and similar advantages.
What is the ECM machines speed and torque motor curve/characteristics? How does it compare to others?
When an ECM machine is commutated in the same fashion as a brushed DC motor, based on shaft position, the torque-speed curve is flat and linear. This curve is similar to a conventional brushless DC motor, but without the intermittent cogging torque zone.
Complete absence of cogging torque is an outstanding feature of the ECM machine.
What is the life time operation of the E-Circuit Motor compare to BLDC?
End turn insulation failures and bearing failures are the primary modes of failure in BLDC motors. Bearings are a matter of initial quality and environment, but the end turns are where the windings in a BLDC are least supported and where the insulation is subject to the greatest stress as a matter of construction.
In contrast ECM machines have windings that are completely constrained and encapsulated, including the end-turns. These end-turns experience no insulation stress as a matter of construction. In the event that an ECM machine stator does fail, it is a single component that can be replaced.
Do ECM machines produce harmonics and how is it compared to BLDC?
The E-circuit motor windings are staggered on layers throughout the PCB in such a way that the EMF is very nearly sinusoidal. Conventional BLDC motors with flux concentrating iron tend to produce a pronounced trapezoidal waveform.
What is the E-circuit motor safe operational voltage ranges?
The E-circuit motor controller determines safe operation ranges and therefore ECM machines can be designed to accommodate any input operation and/or power conditioning.
Do ECM machines need ventilation?
ECM machines are not ventilated like a conventional induction machine. Contamination with air-borne magnetic materials would be difficult to remove and could lead to premature machine failure. Conventional BLDC machines, some of which are open chassis designs, share this feature.
E-circuit motors can be cooled passively or actively by air or water depending on the. Water cooled E-circuit motors have demonstrated remarkable performance. But conventional TEFC or passive cooling is normal for an ECM machine.
What is the working ambient temperature range of the ECM machine?
Permanent magnets are generally characterized by a “maximum operating temperature”, above which point there is a loss of magnetization. This maximum temperature is significantly less than the Curie temperature, at which point all magnetization is lost. Maximum operating temperatures are dependent on the specific magnet, but the temperature range of concern is 80 C to 200 C.
Mechanical properties of the PCB suffer at around 120 C, however, high temperature withstanding and high glass-transition temperature circuit board materials are available, and can be incorporated into an E-circuit motor, increasing temperature withstanding to 180 C, which is comparable to “H” rated induction machines.
PrintStator Design and Manufacturing Software
What is PrintStator?
ECM’s advanced motor CAD software, PrintStator, is an innovative SaaS platform that transforms user specifications into optimized printed circuit board (PCB) Stator motor designs.
With PrintStator, users have access to unmatched design freedom and time-to- market for advanced PCB Stator motors. As a result, advanced prototyping projects can now be pursued with improved accuracy and significantly reduced time frames and budgets.
PrintStator streamlines manufacturing PCB Stator motors by developing manufacturing files which can be used to prototype the motor globally.
How does PrintStator work?
PrintStator offers a user-friendly interface that facilitates electric motor innovation. Engineers can create entirely unique motor designs for their specific solutions or access a library of existing designs and customize them as per their requirements.
The software provides a range of customization options, including and not limited to:
- motor dimensions
- voltage/current restraints
- performance specifications
- target efficiency
- specific magnetic material integrated
Rapid design iteration
PrintStator employs proprietary algorithms amd analyzes the motor’s electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical behavior to provide users with accurate predictions of motor performance, and enable rapid design iteration.
Can you create a custom electric motor with PrintStator?
PrintStator utalizes advanced algorithms to transform discrete motor specifications into optimized PCB stator solutions.
Encompassing intricate geometries, winding patterns, and material characteristics. ECM’s motor design solution enables users to simulate the performance of their designs in diverse operating conditions and under varying ambient temperatures.
The outputs of PrintStator can be employed as design files for a unique, custom electric motor.
Streamlined 5-Step Custom Motor Design
How does manufacturing with PrintStator work?
PrintStator leverages the global capacity of the printed-circuit board industry to enable rapid prototyping and full-scaled production. With each unique PCB Stator design, PrintStator automatically generates a Gerber file, an open ASCII vector format for 2D binary images ubiquitously utilized by the PCB manufacturing industry. This file specifies key factors, such as copper weight, layout for each layer, vias, solder mask, and legend, and can be used to immediately print the stator worldwide. The end result is unmatched flexibility, time-to-market, and scalability.
What are the applications for PrintStator?
Given the varied customization opportunities, PrintStator can customize and optimize PCB Stator motor solutions for a wide range of applications and use cases. To date, PrintStator has been used for applications ranging from 4W to 20kW and in industries including A&D, consumer electronics, robotics, HVAC, industrial equipment, e-mobility, renewable energy, medical devices, maritime, simulated inertia, and fitness equipment.
Who has already used PrintStator to design products?
PrintStator has been employed by a diverse array of companies, spanning from startups to prominent industry leaders. As of Q3 2023, ECM designed and manufactured over 100 unique prototype solutions, with many now integrated into high-volume commercial products.
What power levels can PrintStator design motors for?
ECM Solutions have been designed for a wide spectrum of industries and applications, featuring power ratings spanning from 4W to 20kW. ECM’s technology has been widely tested within this range providing a high confidence level. ECM is continually undertaking R&D projects to expand on the technological readiness across higher power ratings
What torque and speed ranges can PrintStator be used for?
PrintStator can design motors in a wide range of specified torques for a diverse range of applications and use cases.
- ECM’s current technological readiness allows for solutions ranging from 0 to 75Nm continuous torque and 500Nm peak instantaneous torque.
- ECM’s current technological readiness allows for solutions ranging from 0 to 30,000 RPM.
- R&D efforts are underway to expand the ranges available.
What are the advantages of PrintStator?
PrintStator offers significant advantages over a manually designed motor including:
Exact Motor Designs
PrintStator’s advanced modeling algorithms transform discrete motor specifications into optimized PCB motor stator designs without the risk of human error.
PrintStator provides users unparalleled design flexibility, allowing users to design a motor around their system rather than designing their system around a motor.
PrintStator accurately simulates the performance of each motor design under a variety of operating environments, allowing users to quickly optimize solutions to better fit their specific application.
PrintStator’s users can optimize motor designs for a variety of characteristics including weight, efficiency, torque density, size, current, and/or a combination of criteria depending on application requirements.
Rapid Design Cycle
PrintStator enables swift iterations on designs through the input of altered parameters. With PrintStator, complete models are ready in a matter of hours and functioning prototypes are just weeks away.
PrintStator produces unique Gerber files with each motor design. These files can be sent to PCB manufacturers worldwide for immediate prototyping—offering a simplified manufacturing process and rapid design-to-prototyping cycle
As a cloud-based software, PrintStator has an integrated feedback loop that ensures the continued improvement of modeling accuracy and optimization capabilities. PrintStator users can expect regular software updates.
How can I get access to PrintStator?
The public release of our award winning motor design software PrintStator is expected to take place in Q1, 2024!
With PrintStator in your toolbox, you will create your own integrated, custom PCB Stator motors and generators – specialized for your end-use applications – from the comfort of your personal computer. The software will then communicate with local printed circuit board design houses to deliver your complete turnkey motor solution within weeks.
Stop designing your system around a motor, and start utilizing PrintStator motor CAD to design next-generation, purpose-built motors around your system.
Specialized solutions with exact operating parameters.
Innovative applications powered by ECM’s PCB Stator technology.