AREEA - Advanced Rotors for Energy Efficient Actuators
Successful Industrial Implementation of an Innosuisse Project
Together with Johnson Electric in Murten the institute iRAP developed and successfully implemented a highly automatized production process.
Johnson Electric designs and manufactures motion solutions for the automotive industry. Johnson Electric’s actuators contain electric motors. A key part of the electric motors is the magnetic rotor. Johnson Electric currently produces several tens of millions of actuators per year in Murten in a highly automated production process.
A rotor product is composed of many parts like a plastic axis and an external magnetic cylinder. The current production process of the rotors needs multiple steps (manufacturing, magnetization, assembly operation). To reduce the production cost and then to guarantee a continued cost-efficient high-volume production in Switzerland, Johnson Electric desired to develop a fully integrated 1-step production process for their rotors.
For this reason, Johnson Electric contacted the Institute of Applied Plastics Research (iRAP) at the University of Applied Sciences Western Switzerland, Fribourg (HES-SO//FR). This institute has a strong knowledge in injection molding of high filled polymers as well as integrative injection molding techniques and was then an ideal partner to develop this new technology.
The new manufacturing technology developed in this Innosuisse project (n° 25802.1 PFIW-IW) allowed the entire rotor to be produced in a single production step in an injection molding machine. At the same time, the process was adapted to allow the use of a magnetic compound that achieved considerably higher magnetic properties of the rotor and therefore a more energy-efficient, higher-performing actuator. At the end of the project, the technology was largely fine-tuned for the industrial application.
The project was an absolute success, all the fixed goals were reached or exceeded (magnetic properties, production time, process stability, integrated assembly). Along with the project, a lot of valuable know-how about the injection process of this magnetic compound was obtained, which allowed Johnson Electric to industrialize the technology in an extremely short time.
Industrialization of this new production process started immediately after the end of the project (2019) in Murten. This synergy during the project between Johnson Electric and iRAP made the industrialization of the technology a relatively smooth process.