Sakuu announces multi-material AM machine to produce EV batteries

May 17, 2021

Sakuu Corporation (previously KeraCel Inc.), San Jose, California, USA, has announced a new industrial-grade Additive Manufacturing machine that can be used in the production of e-mobility batteries. The Sakuu AM platform, developed entirely in-house, blends Powder Bed Fusion and Binder Jetting technology, using different multi-materials in a single layer capacity. The process combines metal, ceramic, and the company’s proprietary support material, PoralyteTM , which removes part overhang limitations and enables easier and faster production of devices with internal channels and cavities.

Backed by Japanese automotive parts supplier to major OEMs, Musashi Seimitsu, Sakuu hopes to enable fast and high-volume production of additively manufactured solid-state batteries (SSBs) that, compared to lithium-ion batteries, have the same capacity yet are half the size and almost a third lighter.

“SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make,” stated Robert Bagheri, founder, CEO and chairman. “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.”

The result is a solution that may eradicate the shortfalls inherent with existing alternatives – low energy density SSBs that are unsuitable for high-volume production and characterised by thick, brittle ceramic layers and poor interface. Sakuu’s AM platform delivers higher-energy density SSBs with thin monolithic layers and perfect interface.

Furthermore, with only half the material requirement and a ‘powder to powder process’ that ensures easier recyclability of the metals and ceramics by conventional methods, KeraCelTM SSBs score much higher when it comes to sustainability. There is no requirement to extract graphite and the absence of polymer means no incineration or burial in landfill.

Sakuu will initially focus on the two-, three- and smaller four-wheel electric vehicle (EV) market, for whom the company’s SSB proposition delivers an obvious and desirable combination of small form factor, low weight and improved capacity benefits. Customers can also easily switch production to different battery types and sizes, as necessary – for example, to achieve double the energy in the same space or the same energy in half the space.

With the machine’s capability to build complex functional devices at industrial rates, Sakuu anticipates the platforms attributes, such as the ability to manufacture true multi-materials in a single layer, will be easily transferable to a host of different applications in other industry sectors and for uses where AM previously went unused. These include active components, like sensors and electric motors, for aerospace and automotive; power banks and heatsinks for consumer electronics; PH, temperature and pressure sensors within IoT; and pathogen detectors and microfluidic devices for medical.

Bagheri concluded, “As a cheaper, faster, local, customisable and more sustainable method of producing SSBs – which, as a product, deliver much higher performance attributes than currently available alternatives – the potential of our new platform offers tremendous opportunities to users within energy, as well as a multitude of other markets.”

Sakuu’s Alpha Platform for its initial hardware offering is scheduled for release in Q4 2021.

In the latest issue of Metal AM magazine

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Extensive AM industry news coverage, as well as the following exclusive deep-dive articles:

  • Metal powders in Additive Manufacturing: An exploration of sustainable production, usage and recycling
  • Inside Wayland Additive: How innovation in electron beam PBF is opening new markets for AM
  • An end-to-end production case study: Leveraging data-driven machine learning and autonomous process control in AM
  • Consolidation, competition, and the cost of certification: Insight from New York’s AM Strategies 2024
  • Scandium’s impact on the Additive Manufacturing of aluminium alloys
  • AM for medical implants: An analysis of the impact of powder reuse in Powder Bed Fusion

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