Michigan State University develops eco-friendly motors using additive manufacturing technology

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Shanelle Foster is professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and is developing a type of green motor manufactured using additive manufacturing, which eliminates waste at every step of production. She has been working on this research since 2009.

“To me, motors themselves are green, but to make them more green, we have to think about how they arrive here, so the manufacturing itself.”, said Shanelle. The professor also says that one way to make the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly is additive manufacturing technology,

It allows us to only put material where we want that material, (…) so, it eliminates that cutting process and eliminates waste.”

-Shanelle Foster, professor at Michigan State University.

The 3D printing process brought new ways to create motors, “The properties of that steel in motors is uniform throughout, (…), 3D printing can allow us to put, not only just material where we want it, but the type of material that we want. So we can diversify our material.”, said Shanelle Foster. She came up with the idea to diversify the materials in her motors by observing an unlikely source… spiders.

The professor’s curiosity made her noticed that spider webs are strong and difficult to break, and she began to wonder what makes them so durable, “I started learning about the fact that they use different silks, (…), They all look the same, but they use different silks and they put that silk where they need it to perform a certain function, which is very similar to what I want to do with motors.”, said Shanelle

By using different 3D printing materials, the motors can also become smaller and more efficient.

A Foster’s additive manufactured motor.

This is one of the best labs in Michigan that has capabilities and research equipment and can closely collaborate with the big three automotive industries, (…), so, when I got the opportunity to join here, I took it immediately.”, said the Shanelle’s collaborator Thang Phan.

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Margaret Cahill, FOX47NEWS, https://www.fox47news.com/neighborhoods/msu-campus/msu-professor-develops-green-motors-using-3d-printing published on Oct5 2021, re-edited and published by João Andrade on Oct8 2021;

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