Can CAD Help in Meeting Efficiency Standards for Electric Motors?

Electronics manufacturers need to make motors compliant with the EU efficiency rules. The solution may include CAD and SaaS.

May 9, 2023

4 Min Read
ECM Exploded PCB Stator Motor  (1).jpg

Brian Casey, CEO of ECM PCB Stator Technology

With an eye on sustainability, the governing body is phasing in legally mandated Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) for motors. That’s largely because the eight billion electric motors currently in use in the European Union consume nearly 50 percent of all electricity the region produces, according to EU data.

Reducing that energy sink via regulation is an obvious goal for European policymakers seeking a more environmentally friendly power grid. The resulting regulation has sent companies searching for fixes to adapt products to new performance rules. As with many commercial challenges, the solution for rapidly transitioning to millions of highly efficient electric motors lies in design.

EU Ecodesign Regs

Before expanding on that, some background on the EU’s rules regime is needed. In 2019, the European Parliament passed “ecodesign” legislation with a framework for phasing in minimum electric motor efficiency requirements based on International Electrotechnical Commission classes IE1 (Standard Efficiency) to IE4 (Super-Premium Efficiency). These new MEPS regs have a broad scope—covering everything from home appliances to industrial air conditioning—and apply to motors with a power range from 0.12 kW to 1000 kW.  

In July 2023, the EU will become the first region in the world to make the IE4 efficiency class mandatory for some categories of electric motors. Altogether, the European Union expects this framework to erase 40 million tons of CO2 emissions annually. Furthermore, the EU projects that its eco-design motor regulations will save European households $22 billion in energy costs by delivering 110 TWh of annual energy savings by 2030. The latter is equivalent to the yearly electricity consumption of the Netherlands.   

To put that in context, by simply using more efficient motors, the EU can save as much energy as its seventh-largest economy currently uses annually. That’s all good news for the environment, EU countries, and their citizens. Still, there remains a conundrum. How do global electronics manufacturers convert hundreds of product lines with electric motors that conform to the EU’s ecodesign standards?

Past Tech Can’t Power The Future

Part of the answer lies in accepting that the status quo—using traditional, off-the-shelf electric motors—won’t suffice for manufacturers selling in Europe. Conventional machines rarely reach efficiency rates above 75 percent and offer little to no design optimization. These electric motor classes are bulky, and loud, and require a lot of raw materials to produce. Furthermore, they are costly and complicated to manufacture and dispose of.

Continued reliance on this outdated technology is the primary reason electric motor systems are sucking up 50 percent of the EU’s annual electricity output and account for over 50% of global energy consumption. In short, the EU—and other regions mandating higher motor efficiency standards—can not solve 21st-century energy challenges using 50-year-old motor technology.

For commercial actors, complying with the European Union’s Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) will require the ability to create better-performing, custom-designed electric motors that can be produced sustainably. As a startup, ECM PCB Stator Technology’s approach to meeting this need comes down to two things: advanced motor technology and CAD.  

Motor Cad Can Scale Efficiency  

On the tech side, ECM has developed printed circuit board—or PCB Stator—electric motors. The PCB Stator replaces the copper windings found in conventional electric machines with an ultra-thin stator. Electric motors incorporating ECM’s printed circuit board stators are smaller, 70% lighter, achieve efficiencies of up to 96 percent, and use up to 80 percent less raw materials than conventional machines. 

ECM couples this PCB Stator science to its PrintStator CAD platform. This allows innovators to dial-in precise performance and dimensional specs to create custom electric motor solutions integrated with patented PCB Stator technology. For example, if a European washing-machine manufacturer needs a 1.62 horsepower electric motor that achieves 94% efficiency and conforms to an exact form factor, that can be designed via the software.

To scale these benefits more broadly, ECM offers PrintStator as a SaaS product. This lets innovators in the EU, and other regions, print custom-printed circuit board stator motors anywhere in the world through existing PCB manufacturing facilities. There’s a compound benefit here in requiring less energy and fewer sourced materials to create more efficient electric motors. 

ECM is working with several global manufacturing companies to incorporate PrintStator-designed PCB Stator solutions into commercial and industrial devices compliant with the EU’s Minimum Energy Performance Standards for motors.  

The adoption of printed circuit board technology and CAD via SaaS can be an effective means for European Union regulators and private sector producers to solve a common challenge. That is, upgrading the continent with more efficient electric motors that reduce pollution, create a sustainable power grid, and save European households billions of Euros in energy costs.

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