Introduction: 600 Watt, 3d-printed, Halbach Array, Brushless DC Electric Motor

Picture of 600 Watt, 3d-printed, Halbach Array, Brushless DC Electric Motor

This is a very powerful, 3d-printed brushless DC electric motor. It has 600 Watts, and performs with more than 80% efficiency. The main components like rotor and stator can be printed with a common FDM-printer. Magnets, copper wire, and ball-bearings are ordinary components. The magnets of the rotor are arranged as Halbach Array. The motor runs with a standard ESC widely used in different RC-applications (plane, drone, car).

Max. power (tested)           600 W
Nominal Voltage                30 V
Nominal Current                20 A
Kv                            255 rpm / V
Efficiency (at nominal power)  80 %
Total Weight                  900 g
Diameter                      105 mm
Length (without Shaft)         85 mm
Shaft Diameter                  8 mm

The motor is a redesign based on the learnings from the makeSEA Motor. For the design I've used Fusion 360, for 3d-printing Simplify3D, Ultimaker 2, and Makerbot Replicator 2x. The referenced videos above show additional information: general demo, building and assembly instructions.

The required hardware (magnets, copper wire, ball-bearings) is available on eBay or AliExpress for roughly $50 (USD). I hope that you also want to support me and my work: I'm selling the STL-files for your 3d-printed motor for $10 (USD). Links to all individual components are provided in the subsequent instructions steps.

I’m really curious to see your applications, comments, and ideas.

Step 1: Purchase Hardware, Parts-List

Picture of Purchase Hardware, Parts-List

To get started, you need to purchase some hardware. The hardware isn't very exotic, and you maybe can find it in your local hardware store. I bought most of it from AliExpress, but other online stores like eBay or McMaster are selling these products as well.

Depending on your application you should prepare M3 Bolts and Nuts, Washers, connecting Cables, Heat-Shrink, and Plugs. As tools you need a decent drill-press, a solder iron, various screwdrivers, and a little scale. Make sure your 8 mm drill-bit is in a good shape.

Note 1: The sizes of the magnets indicated by the sellers are a nominal values. In reality the magnets are a bit smaller. The 3d-design of the rotor is optimized for the real size (large magnets: 39.2 x 9.7 x 3.7 mm, small magnets: 19.2 x 4.7 x 2.8 mm). In doubt, contact the seller before ordering.

Note 2: When you’re doing the first test runs, keep an eye on the rotation speed - especially, if you’re using different materials. Better start with a lower voltage battery. If the motor rotates too fast, it could disintegrate, and fast flying debris can cause severe injuries. The expected rotation speed, when the rotor breaks is 15’000 rpm. The suggested maximum rotation speed is 8’000 rpm. At that speed the internal forces are almost a factor of 4 below the catastrophic limit.

Step 2: 3d-print the Main Components

Picture of 3d-print the Main Components

Basically the motor consists of 3 main components, whereas each component is divided into two halves. There is the rotor, the stator core, and the stator mount. All parts can be printed with 0.15 mm layer height. Except of one part, there is no support material needed.

The files can all be purchased and downloaded from makeSEA. Please note, that you must be logged in (registration is free) in order to get the files.

Component                 Material  Layer    Shells   Infill   Support
Halbach Rotor A 8mm.stl   PETG      0.15mm   4        60-80%   No
Halbach Rotor B.stl       PETG      0.15mm   2        50%      No
Collar 2x 8mm-13.stl      PETG      0.15mm   3        70-90%   Yes
Stator Mount A.stl        PETG      0.15mm   3        70-90%   No
Stator Mount B.stl        PETG      0.15mm   3        70-90%   No
Washer M50 0_75mm.stl     PETG      0.15mm   2        50%      No
Stator Core A.stl         mPLA(*)   0.15mm   2        95%      No
Stator Core B.stl         mPLA(*)   0.15mm   2        95%      No

(*) Magnetic PLA from Proto-Pasta

The ROTOR with the slots for the magnets is the largest part. The second part of the rotor is like the lid of a jar, and holds the magnets in place. The third smaller part of the rotor named “collar” is needed to firmly lock the shaft to the rotor. The rotor needs to sustain a high centrifugal forces, hence I recommend a material, which is strong and not brittle. The shaft collar is the only piece, which needs to be printed with supports enabled.

The STATOR CORE is the winding form of the copper wires. It consists of two symmetrical parts. I recommend to use Magnetic Iron PLA from Proto Pasta. PLA has a problem at higher temperatures, but the metal powder not only helps to increase the magnetic flux, but also helps to dissipate heat.

The STATOR MOUNT is also divided into two halves, it firmly locks the stator core, and allows to mount the motor on a chassis. All ball-bearings sit on the stator mount, and it finally needs to absorb all the forces from the motor (vibrations, torque).

Accessory Components

Since it takes several hours to print the rotor, I recommend to first print a small section, fit in the magnets, and tune the print-settings if needed. There is also a spool, which is very useful for the winding work. And there is my "WirePusher" - a tool that looks like a degenerated spatula.

Component                            Material  Layer   Shells  Infill  Sup
Halbach Rotor A Test Magnet Fit.stl  PETG(*)   0.15mm  4       60-80%  No
Spool Top 40mm.stl                   PETG      0.1mm   2       30%     No
Spool Bottom 40mm.stl                PETG      0.1mm   2       30%     No
Wire Pusher.stl                      PETG      0.1mm   2       50%     No

(*) Use the same settings as "Halbach Rotor A.stl"

The material settings for these tools is less critical. You probably can print them also with PLA or ABS.

Step 3: Clean-up, Preliminary Assembly

Picture of Clean-up, Preliminary Assembly

After all parts are printed, they temporarily should be assembled without the copper wires and the magnets. Most likely there is some work required to fit all parts together.

Use a drill-press to adjust the holes for the shaft and screws. Lubricate the drill-bit, and drill at low rotation speeds - cut and not melt the plastic! The 8 mm bore in the rotor and the collar needs to drilled very careful - it has to be perfectly straight, or there will be a potential problem with a very bad balanced rotor.

Press-in all the ball-bearings. If it’s too loose, you can add some kapton-tape (don’t use painters tape, because it will be flattening and loose its effect).

Fix the nuts on one end of the rods with thread-locker glue.

Push the two halves of the stator cores onto the stator mount, and align the teeth-headers. Temporarily fix them with painters tape for later winding work.

Also check, if the rotor can freely spin, and doesn't touch the stator.

Step 4: Prepare the Wiring

Picture of Prepare the Wiring

Enamelled copper wire with 0.45 mm diameter is needed. 6 strands are combined into a single cable. It needs to be 5 m long. Twist it 20 to 30 times, and wind it up onto a small spool (provided as 3d-printable accessory component). The copper of one spool will weigh roughly 50g. 3 spools are needed for winding the 3 phases.

I recommend to wire the motor with the wye-configuration, hence the 3 terminals of the cables can already be soldered together, and isolated with heat-shrink. In my tests I've measured quite high circulating currents for the delta connection, causing unwanted high losses. Nevertheless, if you want to experiment with delta- or wye-configuration, keep all the terminals unconnected.

The illustrations show the 3 phases coloured in yellow, red, and blue. The cables are placed with alternating phase and direction into the slots. A single phase consists of 9 smaller coils arranged around the stator.

Step 5: Winding the Stator Core

Picture of Winding the Stator Core

Phase A: Take the first cable and place it into a slot which has an elongated tooth-head. Fix the loose beginning with some painters tape. Bend the cable into the direction suggested by the tooth-head, skip two slots and place it beneath the neighbour tooth-head into the third slot.

Use a piece of wood or plastic and tightly push the copper wires into the slots. Never use metal tools like a screwdriver, because it damages the isolation. Better use my 3d-printed “wire-pusher”.

Wire the cable back to the slot, where you’ve started. The first turn of the first coil is now completed. Repeat this procedure and make 3 more turns. With the last turn, place the remaining cable inside the stator. It will stay there until the next round.

Phase B: Repeat exactly the same as with phase A, but start with 2 slots offset. The overlapping wires help to fix the wires beneath. When done, also put the spare cable inside the stator.

Phase C: Redo the same pattern again with the third cable.

Great! 1/9 of the winding work is now finished. The rest of the work isn’t much different. Get the spool of phase A out of the interior of the stator, and just continue. Then do phase B, then C, and so on.

When you get to the very last coil of phase C you will realise, that there is something fishy. The cables need to be wired beneath the first coil of phase A. Widen the space with a wooden toothpick, unroll the remaining cable from the small spool, and start weaving!

The result of the weaving work not only looks great, but it also secures ALL the cables.

Step 6: Finish the Stator

Picture of Finish the Stator

Now it’s time to insert the stator mount into the stator core. Feed the 3 begins and the 3 ends of the cables through the holes. You probably need to bend the windings outwards in order to avoid jamming them between stator core and stator mount.

Make sure, the two smaller ball-bearings are well inserted. Also insert the 4 threaded rods with the nuts glued on one side. Be careful to not damage the isolation of the copper wires.

If you soldered already the cables for the wye-configuration, there are only 3 wires to feed through the holes. For finishing the wires, you need to solder some connectors, and protect them with heat-shrink.

Well done! That was certainly the hardest part of the motor.

Step 7: Select and Sort the Magnets

Picture of Select and Sort the Magnets

As next, we like to insert the magnets into the rotor. The problem is the variation of the quality of these magnets. They are differently strong and heavy, and this could cause a badly balanced rotor. Therefore we’re going to measure the weight and the force of all magnets first.

Our main tool is a little scale. The absolute accuracy is not as important, but repeatability needs to be good. When measuring magnets with a scale, we have to be careful to not disturb the result by magnetic components of the scale itself. Also avoid any magnetic objects on your desk. Even a screw hidden inside the table could corrupt the numbers. A wooden bar helps to move the magnet away from the scale, and with the law of the lever, the full measuring range of the scale could be used.

Stick all the magnets on an iron bar. Orient all of them with the same polarity, north or south upwards. Label the magnets with a number for later identification.

A simple construction helps measuring the force: Take a wooden bar, and put one end onto the scale, the other end on a block of wood which keeps the bar horizontal. Place the magnet on the bar, mark the exact position, and tare the scale. Push a ferromagnetic object beneath the magnet, also remember or mark that position. I found a piece of ferrite with a similar size like the magnets. Another chunk of metal, for example some nuts, will certainly work as well, but you need to be careful to not magnetise it during the measurements. Tare the scale for each magnet, before measuring the force. Make a note all the values.

For measuring the weight, I’m using a similar construction with a wooden lever like a seesaw. This time the scale needs to be tared only once without the magnet. Also write up all these values.

The plot illustrates the distribution of my magnets. The variation of the magnetic force is very significant but it has no influence on the centrifugal forces (in particular the small magnets are distributed over a wide range: the strongest magnet is almost 3 times stronger than the weakest magnet). However the variation of the weight matters. Imagine, if all the heavy magnets were located to the same half of the rotor.

Step 8: Insert Magnets Into Rotor

Picture of Insert Magnets Into Rotor

Now we’re going to insert the magnets with a special pattern. The picture shows the 18 positions of the slots for the main magnets. But these numbers are not the identification labels of the magnets. They indicate the weight. 1 is the location for the lightest magnet, and 18 is the location for the heaviest magnet. Certainly this sorting method isn’t the optimum for a perfectly balanced rotor, but it’s simple and helps to avoid the worst case.

First insert all the large magnets. Their polarity needs to be alternating. The label on the magnet helps to identify the correct orientation. If a magnet was inserted wrongly, you can easily remove it by pushing a pin through the hole from the other side of the rotor.

Secondly insert the small magnets with the same balancing method as the large magnets. When inserting them, the large magnets will help to find the correct polarity. If the polarity is wrong, the small magnet will float in its slot. Turn it around, and with the correct polarity, the magnet snap to its proper position.

Step 9: Final Assembly, Test-Run

Picture of Final Assembly, Test-Run

The 3d-printed collar needs to be fixed on the shaft. In fact there is a smaller metal collar sitting inside. The set-screw needs to be quite long and extend into the plastic collar. The collar has 4 additional holes, which can be used to directly mount a pulley or a propeller. There is also a collar available with two internal metal collars. This version can transfer more torque from the rotor to the shaft (see last step with possible variations). Insert the shaft into the rotor and fit the collar into the rotor spokes.

Slide the completed stator into the rotor. Maybe you first try to close the motor without that large 3d-printed washer. If the stator doesn’t slide forth or back, you’re done. In my case the washer was needed - probably the clearance depends on the printer calibration calibration.

Turn the rotor by hand, and carefully listen, if there is some noise from cables, which are touching the rotor. Remove the stator again, and find the reason. Cables are maybe not properly in their slots. Maybe the cables are touching the air-sealing ring of the rotor (see highlighted spot in the drawing).

Basically the rotor is already well fixed when the lid is closed, but if there is a heavy load directly attached to the shaft, I recommend to fix another metal collar on the side of the stator mount.

I also strongly recommend to build a simple, wooden test-stand for the motor. The four threaded rods are used to fix the stator. Don’t tighten the nuts too much, because there is only plastic on the other side. If the nuts come loose while the motor is running, you should use locking nuts instead.

Connect the three wires from the motor to a regular ESC. I’m using my homemade arduino-based servo-tester for generating the control signal. It’s also a good idea to alternatively use an RC transmitter and a receiver - then you can do the initial tests from a safe distance. For the very first test you should really use a battery with a voltage much lower than the nominal voltage of the motor. The motor will spin not as fast, and in case something goes wrong, the damage is less severe. With 8 volts from the battery the motor should be slower than 2000 rpm.

Without a load the motor draws much less than 1 amp. I’m attaching a propeller and let it run in reverse direction, because I want to test the current and not the thrust. For this test I’m initially using again the small battery. Tests at low RPM with the small battery can safely be done indoor, but with the higher voltage from a bigger battery, I recommend to do the tests outdoor.

Step 10: Variations

Picture of Variations

Different Collars, 5 mm Shaft

There is no real standard for a shaft collar, so I’ve designed a few variations with a different outer diameter. Optionally the motor can also be constructed with a 5 mm shaft. Use the print settings recommended in the according instruction step above.

- Halbach Rotor A 5mm.stl (rotor for 5 mm shaft)
- Collar 5mm-13.stl (for 5 mm shaft, single metal shaft collar, 13 mm OD)
- Collar 8mm-16.stl (for 8 mm shaft, single metal shaft collar, 16 mm OD)

Winding Options

The nominal voltage depends on the number of turns per slot and the number of parallel coils. The maximum current depends on the copper wire section area, and the number of parallel strands and coils. The following table shows some suggested configurations matching with different batteries. The “8S LiPo” version is the configuration, which has been tested in-depth. It is used as a reference.

                  8S     6S     4S     3S     2S
Wire Diameter     0.45   0.45   0.45   0.45   0.45   mm
Wire Strands      6      8      12     5      8      #
Turns per Slot    4      3      2      5      3      #
Parallel Coils    1      1      1      3      3      #
Total Wire Area   0.95   1.27   1.91   2.40   3.82   mm^2
Nominal Voltage   30     23     15     13     8      V
Nominal Current   20     27     40     50     80     A
Nominal Power     600    600    600    625    600    W

Wire Strands: When winding your first motor, it’s recommended to use less strands, because the work becomes substantially more simple. The downside is a declined nominal current and power. With more strands it’s more difficult to fit all the cables into the slots. Since I'd like to do more experiments with this motor, I've been winding another core and used 20% more copper wires. I guess that's the upper limit which fits into the slots. That motor still needs to be tested.

Parallel Coils: Decreasing the nominal voltage while maintaining the power is done by lowering the number of turns and increasing the total wire section area. Thick, rigid cables with many strands are painful to wind. It’s simpler to wire the coils in parallel with thin, flexible cables. In order to do this, start like suggested in the basic winding instruction, but already finish when the first third the slots is filled with cables. Prepare 3 new cables, start again with the regular winding pattern, and finish when the second third of the slots is filled. Do the same for the remaining third. Finally there are 9 leads exiting the motor. These leads are now soldered in parallel. The two drawings show the electrical scheme of the motor with the single, and the parallel coils.

PETG Stator Core

If the stator core isn't 3d-printed with magnetic PLA, the rotation-speed per Volt is 15-20% higher. Hence the operating voltage needs to be lower in order to not exceed the specified limit of 8'000 rpm. As a consequence the maximum power of the motor is also 15-20% lower. I don't expect any other disadvantage, when printing the core with a regular material. I'll do some tests later ...


AnirudhV1 (author)2017-11-12

From the images I can tell that the motor has 27 stator armatures. How many individual magnetic poles do the motors? One ring is essentially made of 36 magnets in a Halbach configuration, so would that mean there are 18 individual north/south poles the face the inside of the ring?

TheGoofy (author)AnirudhV12018-01-15

It has 54 slots and 18 poles. Enter these values in this online calculator (1 layer), and you get a quite nice illustration:

J.BaptisteR (author)AnirudhV12018-01-15

No answer on this point? I'm wondering the exact same thing. Is each coils acting as north and south pole in the same time (assuming when energized high for ex)

Bella128 (author)2017-12-30

I have a delta printer so I can make much taller prints. If I were to make something very similar to this except much longer and maybe with more area for airflow... what would I expect? My goal is to see if this is plausible for something like a go kart. Say I was to make it ~1.5ft long but keep everything else the same. Thanks!

ZhiqiangY (author)2017-12-29

Nice work ! Ilike it very much.

pr3sidentspence (author)2017-10-13

What would be required to build a motor capable of 10-15kW? Would this still be something one could do using a 3D printer if, say, one was willing to do lost-PLA/Wax casting in aluminum?

Barring creating more powerful individual motors, could they be used in combination? What would be the practical limit on this, and when do the costs outweigh the benefits?

Specifically, I want to convert an old outboard boat motor to electric, but my budget would be very small. If one could print or cast as much as possible, what would the bill of materials be to make a motor with this power?

My main goal isn't so much to do what I can with 3D printing, it's to minimize cost by putting in labor and leveraging the access I have to 3D printing.

lr10cent (author)pr3sidentspence2017-12-27

caveat: I don't know all that much about electric motors. Take the following with a grain of salt:

If you don't mind using the lower unit from a regular outboard, maybe you could use essentially the existing elements and increase the diameter by increasing the number of poles? I have to admit I don't know what happens when you use more poles, but I'm guessing the torque will go up linearly with the diameter, and maybe the power as well. The mechanical stress will go up. You might have to use fiberglass components or at least wrap the outside of the rotor with fiberglass tow set in epoxy. Some outboard lower units have reduction gears, which ought to help.

You might want to look up homemade wind turbine generators, as they're meant for high torque and low rpms. Not sure that they'd have ENOUGH rpm's, though.

I've heard that some people use "pancake" motors from certain washing machines as generators on their wind turbines, so perhaps one of those could be a good choice for your outboard.

OTOH, you can get fairly hefty brushless motors from hobby sources. I've seen 10kW motors for a few hundred dollars there. However, my guess is that you can find motors that are a little heavier but a lot cheaper that can do the job. Maybe motors meant for scooters, forklifts, small electric vehicles?? The hobby motors I'm talking about are meant to go on flying models. So they'd be lighter. Seems to me that, without all that air going through, an outboard motor application might not cool well enough unless you made specific arrangements. Fan blades built into the rotor?

AdrienR (author)pr3sidentspence2017-12-26

I don’t think that making an aluminium version would be a good idea. you will have problems with foucault currents in the aluminium.

This motor design becomes efficient when the RPM gets high. I suspect that an outboard motor must run at lower RPM, making this design less efficient. A
"conventional" iron laminated design would most likely be more efficient at these lower RPMs.

Multiple smaller motors are always less efficient than one large one. (Area enclosed in a turn-length goes up by the square of a turn-length). Similar problem is farmer using fence to enclose a pasture; making one big pasture is more "efficient" use of fence.

nabzim (author)pr3sidentspence2017-12-26

The only way is to learn all of the required calculations involved with designing this type of motor, and then designing it from the ground up, yourself. Sadly, I do not know any of the required formulas or variables that are needed, so I cannot help in that regard. (But nobody is going to is going to design one just for you, just to give you a bill of materials)
I can say though, for the stator core, it needs to be made of something with iron in it (or just made of iron). You might want to consider casting it from iron powder mixed with epoxy.

You could also just scale this motor up in size and just make changes to # of turns per coil and # of wire strands per coil, based on your available current and voltage. But that would require building it, testing it, then rebuilding it and retesting it, several times over and over again. Sounds like a lot of work just to avoid doing the math.

Good luck with your boat project, and thank you for making it more earth-friendly.

TheGoofy (author)pr3sidentspence2017-10-29

A 3d-printed object is still (much) more expensive compared with an object from mass-production. I recommend to buy a motor off-the-shelf. 3d-printing is potentially cheaper and quicker for making prototypes (the machining costs for fabricating a single object are quite high). And 3d-printing allows to fabricate high-tech objects in everybody's workshop at home.

JanicsekT (author)2017-12-27

Wooow ! Nice job! Gratulation !

AlexisP28 (author)2017-12-26

Hi Christopher, you did an Awesome work !

I'm actually 3D printing magnetic induction bike light and I would really be interested in discussing about designing magnetic flux and power.

Also it could be great to discuss longer on our views in 3D printing this kind of things. My aim from my beginning was to 3D print this kind of strong and usefull things.

WIsh to discuss soon,


BjørnE (author)2017-09-11

What would you think of using something like a ER32 chuck as the shaft, to form the basis of a small lathe?


TimothyJ999 (author)BjørnE2017-12-26

A lathe (even a small one) needs lots of low-speed torque, and seldom needs to exceed 1000 rpm. This motor might do it with the proper gearing (or belting), especially if you added a flywheel for torque. But it has the wrong specs to directly drive a lathe.

TheGoofy (author)BjørnE2017-09-12

Looks massive ... I'm not sure, if the torque of the motor iss sufficient to drive a lathe. In particular with larger diameter workpieces.

BjørnE (author)TheGoofy2017-09-12

No idea how these things scale, just noticed your makeSEA motor produced 0.06Nm at less than 1/10th of the power of this. The mini lathes like C3 from Sieg have a 0.6Nm motor - so for a "toy" I wouldn't think power is an issue.

I was just inspired by your design, and thought about those type of chucks being hollow allowing longer work pieces to be supported in a compact setup. The shaft diamter is 32mm and it has an internal 20mm bore; and clamping collets allowing 2-20mm work pieces.

Another thought I had was to print a mold for the stator core and make a casting of iron oxide and either epoxy or sodium silicate. Might increase the flux, and allow for water cooling if made with cooling channels.

I think your work will inspire a whole lot of cool stuff from other talented people out there. Hat off, and thanks for sharing!

bpark1000 (author)2017-12-26

I note high harmonic energy as the motor runs, and high cogging torque. This contributes to losses, and makes starting more irregular. Simple fix for this is to skew the windings by 1 slot from end-to-end. Because the windings support is 3D printed, you can do a twist function to that part.

Romaju (author)2017-12-26


maewert (author)2017-05-04

Beautiful work.

I would love to see this adapted to build generators suited for wind turbines.

Best Wishes

Ralphxyz (author)maewert2017-05-04

I wondered what it would take to make a generator.

TheGoofy (author)Ralphxyz2017-05-04

It works as a generator evenly well like the motor. The electric machine can stay unchanged, just a different electronics is needed.

maewert (author)TheGoofy2017-05-04

I am not skilled in generator design. For wind applications I understand that low RPM generators are usually used to eliminate mechanical losses so that the generator is directly driven by the windmill. I'm also under the impression that generator startup force is important which may be due to the generator's cogging forces which would be multiplied also by any gearing if used. To use this motor as a generator without modification I believe would require maybe 50:1 mechanical gearing in order to provide 6k RPMs or so. Is it possible to optimize the design for low RPM?


TheGoofy (author)maewert2017-05-04

You're right, a gearing is needed to get the 600W from this machine. If only a higher voltage is needed at a very low rpm, it is possible to use thinner wires with more turns per coil. I've done this for an earlier project:

bpark1000 (author)TheGoofy2017-10-26

Thinner wire gets you the voltage, but does not get you the current. The power available from a generator is proportional to the square of the speed. The magic number to look for is voltage squared divided by winding resistance.

bpark1000 (author)maewert2017-10-26

You can reduce the cogging forces in iron-based generators. (Ironless generators have no cogging forces). Do this by curving the magnets to reduce the harmonic field, and either skewing the slots or magnets by 1 slot end-to-end, or setting the magnets "off their correct positions" for short rotors.

Melman2 (author)2017-05-07

Great project! A job done by a true engineer. I wonder if an similar design could be used for an wind generator (wind turbine). I think, in that case, the number of rotations per volt should be very low.

TheGoofy (author)Melman22017-05-09

Yes, that works. For higher voltage at low rotation speed, only the number of copper wire turns needs to be increased. 10 times higher voltage should be simple. However, it won't be possible to get 600W at a lower rotation speed.

bpark1000 (author)TheGoofy2017-10-26

For machines that turn slowly, the old-fashioned slotted iron designs work best, as iron losses are low, and copper losses high. Anything that boosts coil voltage (raising flux density) helps.

Melman2 (author)TheGoofy2017-05-09

Thank you for response. It's obviously isn't possible to get max power at low speed but is ok even at half power. An genuine wind turbine at same power cost much more than this one. The smart arrangement of magnets can be an serious improvement for efficiency of turbine.

bpark1000 (author)2017-05-04

Awesome design! Here are some suggestions to improve the performance. For the rotor, you really need a metal ring on the outside. The tension in the plastic at 8000 RPM is on the 100's of pounds. plastic slowly yields to this stress, and will fail. Preferably, a steel shell should be used both to withstand the forces, and to provide a return path for the magnetic flux. Since your rotor is made in 2 parts, you can omit plastic and put the ring in place, between the 2 halves.

You also need a "real" flux-return path on the inside of the windings. This path must be laminated. It could be provided by winding in steel wire, as making laminations is difficult.

I noticed a "howling" sound when the motor is running. This is due to harmonic noise, and adds to the loss. You can reduce the harmonic noise by slightly skewing the windings. Probably about half of one of your slot-spacings would be right.

Regarding the magnets: they should not show a wide variation in power! I would look for better quality magnets, such as from K&J Magnetics.

TheGoofy (author)bpark10002017-05-05

Your hints for improving the performance are absolutely correct.

My motivation to build this motor was driven by the 3d-printing technology: how far can I get, if I'm creating a proper design? And where is the limit when omitting the "traditional" laminations?

Consider the two major factors of losses relevant for efficiency: 1) Copper losses are proportional with the square of the current. 2) Iron losses are caused by eddy-currents, which are (linearly?) related with the rotation speed.

In order to avoid the copper losses, a superconductor would be required. That's difficult to make. For eliminating the eddy-currents it's only needed to leave away the laminations.

Note that this motor has zero iron losses, because there is basically no iron. The magnetic PLA which I'm using for the stator behaves more like a ferrite. It's iron powder in plastique, not conducting. There are only copper losses.

Increasing the voltage (and hence RPM), while keeping the current fixed, will result in in more power and even more efficiency.


- Nominal values: 30V, 20A, 600W input, 120W copper losses, 0W iron losses => 80% efficiency
- Increased values: 60V, 20A, 1200W input, 120W copper losses, 0W iron losses => 90% efficiency

Unfortunately it's not possible to increase the voltage for this motor. Like you're saying, the fast spinning rotor is the limitation.

But there is the Mark 2 printer (from Markforged), which can 3d-print continuous carbon fibres, and the material is 10-20 times stronger than the material I've used. With 100V and proportional higher RPM (hence better cooling) a current of 30A could be possible. Resulting theoretically in 3kW with 90% efficiency.

Of course there are other factors (e.g. electronics: fast switching FETs), but these are my thoughts to increase the performance ...

bpark1000 (author)TheGoofy2017-05-06

You might want to think about another design I made. One problem I had when designing this type of "ironless" motor is the flux curving back between the poles without linking any coil. The Halbach magnet helps limit this happening in the plane of the magnet, but does nothing to prevent it in the air gap. Instead of having magnet on only 1 side of the coil, have magnets on both inside and outside the coils. The flux is now 'thrown" in from both sides. Now I agree this is difficult to arrange mechanically...unless you change things a bit. What I did was to "twist everything 90 degrees" and have the flux axial, and the current radial. The rotor consists of 2 pancake arrays of magnets, embedded in 2 aluminum discs, each backed with a ring of iron, and the stator a slab with coils embedded inside.

(I built alternator this way to make 120VAC 3 phase 80W, 90% efficiency, to be rectified into 168VDC and fed into "world-wide" power supply. Alternator ran on 1HP engine at 3000 RPM. No circuit breaker was needed as engine stalled if load got too high. Geometry was 4" diameter, 16 poles, 12 coils in 3 sets of 4 per phase star. Weight 1.1 pound. Magnets 1/2 inch square, 1/4inch thick each side, 32 total. No Halbach array.)

Disadvantage of that scheme is it is difficult to arrange for crossing end-turns of the phase coils, forcing you to have only 1 phase in a given sector of the air-gap. But your most ingenious 3D printing guide slots (yours is the best design I have seen to deal with this problem!) could most likely allow crossing turns within the stator plate. On purpose, you would make a 3D print for the stator that is weak and porous, wind in the coils, and impregnate with epoxy. (My opinion to the secret of good 3D prints is the post-processing. I am wearing Mykita eyeglass frames made this way. They are strong enough to not need reinforcing wire in the temples.)

TheGoofy (author)bpark10002017-05-09

Axial flux is an interesting arragmenent. I'm a bit scared to get the centrifugal forces under control. Maybe it would be worth to just do an experiment, and get familiar with the potential issues ... many thanks for you great ideas.

bpark1000 (author)TheGoofy2017-10-26

Don't be afraid of axial designs/centrifugal effects! The "pull" is in the plane of the disk. This is "easy" compared to pull directly away from the surface of a rotating drum structure. A ring around the outside, outside of the working parts of the motor, made of "real" material such as machined aluminum, can bear this.

a_osorio (author)TheGoofy2017-07-21

I have access to a Markforged Mark II printer and I'm planning on doing experiments with it to increase efficiency. Which parts would you recommend strengthening and how?

TheGoofy (author)a_osorio2017-07-22

A more robust rotor would allow to use the motor at a higher rotation speed, a higher voltage and a slightly higher current (due to better ventilation). Double the speed, double the power. According to the data-sheet the carbon-reinforced material is 10 times stronger than the PETG. With the centrifugal forces being proportional to the square of the rotation speed, the motor could spin 3 times faster. However it's also necessary to replace the larger ball-bearing with a higher quality bearing - maybe ceramic. And (dynamic) balancing is certainly also required.

usf.tim (author)TheGoofy2017-05-05

Do you have any comparison data to a traditional motor? Say one bought from Hobby king? How much less efficient is your motor? Does your motor weigh less than a traditional motor with laminated core and metal housing? How does it compare in cost?

Thanks Tim

TheGoofy (author)usf.tim2017-05-05

The ratio of power and weight is really inferior compared to a traditional motor. Efficiency isn't as bad - a traditional motor with the same power at 90% efficiency is already a top-quality motor. Costs are difficult to compare, since quite some manual effort needs to be invested. I think the most interesting aspect is, that it's possible to fabricate a good-quality motor from scratch at home. It's not necessary to have a lathe or a cnc-router in your workshop - just a 3d-printer and a drill-press.

pr3sidentspence (author)2017-10-13

Oh, and amazing project!

MOB16 made it! (author)2017-08-27

Thanks for the most excellent design and the willingness to share it! Most difficult part was fitting the stator inside the case... a bit of sanding required off my printer.

bliz23 (author)2017-06-01

fyi, proto pasta no longer sells the material under the name "magnetic iron PLA" it is now "Composite PLA - Rustable Magnetic Iron". They say it is the same material, just re-branded.

Edgar (author)2017-05-17

Neat. Went to my Blog:

emissary42 (author)2017-05-14

Have you considered developing a version with a cavity in the rotor for a flux ring? This would be useful for lower speed, higher torque applications.

TheGoofy (author)emissary422017-05-15

No. I think the Halbach arrangement partially replaces the flux-ring of the rotor. The weaker side has a less strong and a less extended magnetic field. The rotor has some space to embed continous fibers in order to make it printable with a Mark 2 printer from Markforged (not yet tested).

GordonS40 (author)2017-05-14

I'm trying to buy the .stl files from makeSEA but the checkout won't get past "confirm order". Mr. Laimer how do I get the files?

TheGoofy (author)GordonS402017-05-15

I've contacted makeSEA. They are working on it.

About This Instructable




Bio: I was born in Zurich, Switzerland, grew up nearby. After finishing my studies in Electrical Engineering at the ETH in Zurich with the masters degree ... More »
More by TheGoofy:Create a Parametric 3d-printable Slew Bearing With Fusion 360600 Watt, 3d-printed, Halbach Array, Brushless DC Electric Motor
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