How to Overcome Challenges with Brittle Electrical Steel for the EV Market

“Electrical” steel (also called silicon steel, lamination steel, transformer steel and more) has been a hot topic since the explosion of the electric vehicle market. This specialty steel category, made with various alloys that include silicon, has strong magnetic properties and high conductivity to speed the transfer of electricity and heat, making this steel ideal for electric vehicle components such as DC motors and transformers at EV charging stations.

However, this specialized, high-strength steel comes with a drawback. It’s highly brittle and prone to cracking, presenting unique challenges for processing steel coils.

“If you don’t pay attention to the process details and overstress these kinds of steel, you’ll be faced with material defects and potentially severe delays in operations,” says Kirk Dicke, engineer and Director of Coil Processing and Mill Products at Machine Concepts. “These are multi-million dollar contracts in the EV industry, and it’s critical that the coil processing machinery fits the characteristics of the steel.”

Upgrade Your Coil Processing Equipment for Lamination Steel

Most OEMs diving into the EV market will need to upgrade their coil processing equipment with a custom solution. In doing so, it will be key they work with a coil equipment manufacturer who has deep experience in developing machines that are compatible with specialty steels.

This steel, with extreme hardness and brittleness, must flow very smoothly through the entire coil processing system. A standard solution will not work effectively. Engineers should evaluate the:

  • Material flow to ensure no abrupt changes in direction
  • Shallow entry and exit angles for fluidity
  • Roll diameters that won’t overstress the material
  • Tooling rated for hardness and high abrasion 

Key pieces of equipment to upgrade will be your slitters, side trimmers and scrap choppers.


Silicon Steel Slitters

For manufacturing lamination motors and other EV components, features to look for in slitters should include:

  • Robust overall design to handle the higher cutting loads generated by high-strength steel.
  • Precision bearings, arbors and other components needed to hold exact cutting tolerances.
  • Provisions in the line to limit tension or stress on the strip as it is being slit/cut.
  • Slitter tooling that is optimized for high hardness and resistance to abrasion.

Slitters for electrical steel

Lamination Steel Side Trimmers

Features to look for in side trimmers should include:

  • Careful evaluation of knife diameters. Larger knives can help reduce cracking.
  • Proper toe angle between the knife and the prime strip.
  • Provisions for quick and accurate knife gap and knife overlap adjustments.
  • Strip support and guiding through the side trimmer zone to eliminate flutter or wave in the sheet.

Side Trimmers for electrical steel

Electrical Steel Scrap Choppers

When it comes to chopping electric steel, features to look for should include:

  • Robust arbor size and bearing set up. Deflection should be minimized as much as possible.
  • Knife configurations with multiple cutting edges to maximize knife life.
  • Entry and exit scrap chutes designed for smooth scrap flow.
  • Provisions for easy and accurate alignment of the chopper heads with the slitter or side trimmer tooling.

Scrap Choppers for ev metals

Find a Domestic Equipment Partner

At Machine Concepts, we are a domestic supplier. All of our coil processing equipment is made in the USA. We specialize in high precision, high speed, slitting and trimming applications and custom-designed scrap choppers. As an engineering-based manufacturer, we work with your engineers and technology centers to find a custom solution that brings efficiency, quality and high productivity to your manufacturing process.

Get a Quote Started Today

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