By Brian Casey, President & CEO of ECM PCB Stator Tech. ECM PCB Stator Tech won four categories at the 2023 SaaS Awards, Best SaaS Newcomer, Bespoke SaaS Solution of the Year, Best SaaS Product for Engineering Management, PLM or CAD, and Best SaaS Product for CSR, Sustainability and ESG. They were also a finalist for Best SaaS Product for Energy & Utilities.

 

An overlooked trend in global markets is the growing demand for specialized and sustainable electric motors.

The world is rapidly electrifying and as a result, more of the things we use in business and personal life are electrifying, too. From e-bikes to home appliances, much attention is paid to the batteries and operating systems of these apparatuses.

What shouldn’t be missed, however, is the fact that all these products need electric motors. Over the coming decade, the world is going to require a whole lot of electric motors of a very different variety than the clunky, inefficient offerings of the past.

This may sound like a hardware challenge, but like many real-world problems, the solutions actually lie in software. SaaS design will play a critical role in meeting the needs of next generation electric motor design.

Before expanding on that, some market and technical context is useful. There are several underlying currents driving the surge in next generation electric motor demand.

Billions of motors

In 2022, the number of electric motors produced annually surpassed one billion, according to Future Markets Insight. Additional analysis indicates the necessity and applications for these machines won’t slow any time soon. A 2024 study by Allied Market Research forecasts the yearly value of the electric motor industry will more than double from $143 billion in 2021 to over $300 billion in less than a decade.

Both sources project this booming electric motor demand will occur in a long list of verticals: HVAC equipment, e-mobility, consumer electronics, household appliances, robotics, medical devices, maritime, aerospace—you name it.

What’s propelling this trend? An obvious driver is the conversion of many of these categories—such as mobility and heating—from fossil fuels to electric energy. An additional driver is the surge of robotics and automation across multiple sectors. And a third factor spurring global electric motor need is the push—cheered on by policy and environmental advocacy—to convert more of the energy we use to electric in a bid to decarbonize energy grids.

Electric motor sustainability

Within the electrification of energy there is an additional regulatory effort to address the electric motor sustainability problem. An alarming reality is that outdated motor systems—used in millions of everyday devices—consume over 50% of global electricity.

And without disruptive design and innovation, this problem stands only to get worse. There is a positive side, however. Boosting average efficiency in the world’s billions of electric motors could cut over 100 million tons of carbon emissions annually and save citizens over $30 billion in utility costs each year, according to the European Commission and US Department of Energy.

To move in this direction, both the US and EU will aggressively pursue Minimum Efficiency Performance Standards—or MEPs—for electric motors. The European Commission has already begun to mandate these MEPs, requiring IE4 efficiency ratings for certain classes of products.

Out with the old…

At ECM PCB Stator Tech we’ve done internal research to determine what kind of machines will best serve the electrified future. A predominant conclusion: the world won’t simply need more electric motors. Global markets will require next generation electric motors that are customizable, significantly more efficient, deliver better performance, and that can be produced in a more sustainable way.

These factors present a complex energy and design equation to solve. How do we satisfy the supply needs of a world projected to demand over a billion electric motors annually with very specific requirements across thousands of applications?

Part of the answer lies in accepting that traditional, off-the-shelf electric motors aren’t up to the task. Conventional machines, such as AC, DC, and hermetic units, rarely reach efficiency rates above 75 percent. These electric motor classes are bulky, loud, require a lot of raw materials to produce and are more costly and complicated to manufacture and dispose of.

In ECM’s estimation, supplying the world with billions of specialized, energy and space efficient electric motors comes down to two things: disruptive technology and SaaS.

On the technology side, we’ve specialized the development of printed circuit board—or PCB Stator—electric motors. ECM’s PCB Stators replace the copper windings found in conventional electric machines with an ultra-thin stator. This PCB Stator becomes the central component for optimally converting electric energy into mechanical energy in voltage powered systems.

Motor CAD SaaS

To create custom-fit PCB Stator motors to precise performance specs and dimensions, ECM turns to software. Specifically, we’ve developed a proprietary motor CAD platform called PrintStator.

Using PrintStator, ECM’s in house engineers have been able to rapidly design, model and prototype optimized printed-circuit-board stator electric motors to exact specs for multiple use-cases. These include applications for blue chip corporations, governments, small businesses, gaming companies, innovators, disruptors, and startups—to name a handful.

All that said, there are only so many units any one team can design and produce in a world that will require hundreds of millions of highly specialized electric motors a year. That’s why we believe meeting next generation electric motor needs across a wider range of the earth’s economic and energy infrastructure lies in software as a service.

Design Optimization

ECM motors incorporating printed circuit board stators are smaller, 70 percent lighter, achieve efficiencies of up to 94 percent, and use up to 80 percent less raw materials than conventional machines—such as AC, DC, and hermetic units.

ECM released PrintStator as a public SaaS product in January 2024. When coupled to ECM’s PCB Stator science, PrintStator offers innovators unparalleled design flexibility. From the motor CAD interface, users can dial-in precise performance and dimensional specs—such as weight, size, torque, and efficiency—to create custom electric motor solutions integrated with PCB Stator technology.

For example, if an EU HVAC manufacturer needs a 1.62 horsepower electric motor that achieves 94% efficiency, conforms to an exact form factor, and complies with regional MEPs requirements—PrintStator can design that.

To enable these gains broadly, ECM is working with global electronics companies to incorporate PrintStator design solutions into IE5 efficiency rated products and devices.

Advanced motor CAD offered via SaaS could prove the most viable means to meet the world’s surging electric motor needs and sustainability requirements at scale.

About the Author: Brian Casey

Brian is an expert in the energy and technology industry with over 30 years of experience. This includes leading two companies from growth-stage, to scale, to acquisition. He holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering with a concentration in Power Systems & Delivery from Northeastern University.