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Leveraging Solid State 3D Printing for EV Production

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Conference Abstract: In the past several years, electric vehicle (EV) demand and production has increased significantly, requiring an increase in electric vehicle battery production. In fact, in 2022 alone, lithium-ion battery demand (to take one type of EV battery) grew by 65%, with battery demand in the United States growing by 80%. EV battery manufacturers require reliable, high-throughput manufacturing methods to meet the increasing demands and unique manufacturing requirements of EV battery designs. This presentation details how one EV manufacturer, with a new battery pack design requiring a busbar with dissimilar metals and complex geometry, solved the manufacturing challenge by using metal additive manufacturing. Ultrasonic Additive (UAM)—a solid state additive manufacturing process—was chosen due to its low temperature bonding, which does not create metallurgical problems that arise from joining disparate metals via traditional means, as well as the high-throughput. However, several obstacles had to be overcome to reach automotive scale (takt times of ~3 sec).
- Solid state additive processes have historically been hybrid, requiring a mix of both additive and CNC subtractive processes. The hybrid model is beneficial to low-volume, high-variability parts. In this application, UAM needed to be adapted to high volume manufacturing. To do this, the EV battery manufacturer combined several manufacturing processes, e.g., high volume stamping, with UAM to achieve the high-volume production requirements.
- Metal 3D printing processes are typically limited in deposition rate. This is true for all additive manufacturing processes. However, high production volumes require high deposition rates. In this manufacturing scenario, multiple UAM welding systems were employed simultaneously to achieve the required deposition rates.