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First-ever PIM power component produced

A power transformer with satisfactory thermal performance was produced using powder injection molding (PIM) and a printed-circuit-type industrial assembly. This advance will pave the way to smaller power supply components suitable for a variety of mobile devices.

Published on 5 November 2018

Liten, a CEA Tech institute, developed a soft magnetic material (ferrite with low magnetic losses) offering excellent performance at high frequencies. It has the potential to reduce the mass, volume, and cost of power converters. The material, produced in batches of several kilograms, was powder injection molded (PIM) to obtain the power converter's magnetic core.

The process, which Liten has the capacity to complete in-house, structures the material to a level of detail under a millimeter. It also gives the material a geometry that is compatible with thermal management and good integration into the final component. Furthermore, PIM does not alter the material's intrinsic properties and is suitable for the complex shapes inherent to 3D design and necessary for power converter integration.

The component was proven functional in research conducted in partnership with another CEA Tech institute, Leti, on a transformer prototype in a 60W power component (which covers virtually all PC, tablet, and phone chargers). Power densities of 6W/cm2 were obtained, compared to 1W/cm2 with conventional technologies.

The advance will be of interest to a wide range of markets, including power converters for electric vehicle battery charging systems, as well as mobile electronics and data centers.

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