Sakuu Corporation has announced an industrial 3D printer to produce vehicle traction batteries. Developed with the support of Japanese automotive supplier Musashi Seimitsu, the 3D printer is designed to enable rapid mass production of solid-state batteries.
According to the manufacturer, formerly KeraCel Inc., the “revolutionary innovation” is designed to solve “issues related to cost, performance, sustainability and range” and promote the mass adoption of electric mobility.
The solid-state cells produced using the 3D printer are said to be half the size and a third lighter than conventional lithium-ion batteries for the same energy content. In addition, 30 to 50 per cent less material will be used to achieve the same energy output, Sakuu said. The cells, marketed under the brand name KeraCel, are significantly cheaper, safer and more sustainable.
“SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make,” says Robert Bagheri, founder and CEO of Sakuu. “By harnessing the flexibility and efficiency-enhancing capabilities of our unique and scalable AM process, we’re enabling battery manufacturers and EV companies to overcome these fundamental pain points.”
While the 3D printing process developed by Sakuu is said to be suitable in principle for other industries, the company sees the biggest leverage in battery manufacturing. According to the company, various additive manufacturing processes will be combined. For example, “completely different materials” can be sprayed onto the powder bed in a single layer. In addition to ceramics and metals, the process also uses a carrier material developed by Sakuu called PoraLyte. This carrier material enables the “simple and fast” 3D printing of components with cavities without brittle ceramic layers.
Sakuu initially targets its offering at two-, three- and smaller four-wheeled electric vehicles – as these require a small form factor and low weight. Production can be switched to other battery types and sizes “easily if needed”, the company says. The Alpha platform for Sakuu’s first hardware offering is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2021.