AETC demonstrates an extensive capability for designing, prototyping, and constructing ultra-high precision dies, molds, and jigs, operating with near-zero clearance, enabling practically metal-to-metal contact with moving parts. Dozens of universities and national laboratories have procured AETC battery components and customized tools for their crimping, beading, pellet-forming, and welding. Our tooling caters to many needs, from coin cells to spirally-wound cylindrical cells, to fully-prismatic cells, and we specialize in battery components made out of stainless steel. If you have a material that is potentially lucrative for battery applications, talk to AETC about testing it in one of our battery cells, assembled using tooling designed and built in-house.
AETC relies on our engineers to develop specialized methods for the production of the various components needed for our batteries. We use mechanical engineering to create the processes used for each step of production, from design to application.
The first step of producing battery parts is the design– both of the battery components themselves as well as the instruments we use to produce them. Production of the pieces includes punching shapes from metal, folding them, and welding them, and each of these steps must be deliberately and precisely fashioned for its specific purpose.
We use 3D modeling and computer design to draw up potential forms and sizes for our pieces, presses, and dies, as it is an effective tool for visually demonstrating ideas as well as being able to edit them.
We approach our designs by working to understand the problems our customers wish to solve, taking their needs and requests into consideration above all else. In response, we brainstorm creative engineering solutions that would maximize cost-efficiency, productivity, and functionality. For example, when welding components of the battery cases together, we found it difficult to seal them in such a way that they would be leak-proof. Therefore, we are developing a hermetic seal to ensure our cases are air-tight, which would be functional for up to 20 years. We are dedicated to conceptualizing original and innovative solutions for the progressive and dynamic industry which we serve.
After initially designing new battery parts, we have to test them. We therefore use additive manufacturing to create plastic prototypes based on our 3D designs and then test them among our other materials. This process of 3D printing allows us to experiment with designs with low cost and low risk. It is much quicker to produce prototypes this way, as well as being much easier to edit and modify, than it would be to create prototypes out of metal and then re-create them based on any changes we decide to make. We take advantage of the potential of 3D modeling and printing to refine and perfect our designs as much as possible.
To create the various components of the battery shells, we use traditional punch presses to cut out the base shapes of the pieces out of metal. While the presses themselves are traditional, we use sophisticated, state-of-the-art dies made of 62-65 HR hardened steel. The metal to metal contact between the die and the sheets of metal being punched allows for high precision and tight tolerances down to .001 inch. We also use punch presses to create electrode strips for prismatic cells, and we are able to produce 6 parts per punch since the clearance between the matrix and the punches can be minimal. We have trained operators for the presses, who fine-tune production and maximize the yield of each sheet used. Designing and aligning such exact dies took many hours of optimization, but ultimately the precision and output of production has been improved and hence the cost of production of the parts we make has been reduced. We have experience with several types of steel, all major types of stainless steel, nickel, Monel 400, aluminum, Delrin, ultra-high-molecular density polyurethane, and others, and we offer our engineering services to fulfill your requirements for any particular part in your electrochemical system.
Adjacent to production, the yields are inspected, which includes straightening out metal pieces that may have been warped, shearing each metal piece to a uniform size, measuring the thickness of the electrodes, and finally, sorting through the pieces to find any that may not be up to our standards. We strive to optimize all our machinery for quantity and quality, through design as well as implementation and operation.
The final step in our battery-making process involves synthesizing all of the pieces into a completed product. After punching and sorting the base shapes of each metal part, we fold them to create battery casings and end caps. We then weld the casings closed to create a solid prism, and then weld on the end caps. We also have to weld the electrodes into place, which is one of the most challenging parts of production. The electrodes have to be stacked and aligned perfectly parallel, and we have devised precise cell alignment tools to accomplish this. The electrodes have to be welded together, which requires great skill and accuracy. For some other functions, we use ultrasonic welding, but for this procedure as well as several others, US welding has become obsolete. Instead we use pulsed-arc microscope-enabled MicroTig welding machines. Our welders often use precision medical tools as well, and given the meticulousness and exactitude that this process demands, our battery assembly welding tables tend to resemble a complex surgical procedure.
We produce a multitude of battery parts, including:
Prismatic Battery Housings
Electrode Cutout Dies
Nickel Tab Decoilers
We are proud to say we make almost all the pieces we need for our batteries in-house, based on our own innovative designs.
We are very capable with mechanical engineering design as well as with detailed, careful production, and we encourage you to explore what we could do for you. If we do not make the parts you need, reach out to us. We will either integrate it into our procedures, or if we cannot produce it for you, we will reach out to industry leaders and professional mechanics. We take pride in our relationships with leading organizations and offer you services in combination with theirs. With the capabilities of our specialized machines and the care and talent of our workers, we can provide an extensive range of services for you and your company.