Advanced Multimaterial Shape Optimization Methods as Applied to Advanced Manufacturing of Wind Turbine Generators

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Currently, many utility-scale wind turbine generator original equipment manufacturers are dependent on imported rare earth permanent magnets, which are susceptible to market risks from cost instability. To lower the production costs of these generators and stay competitive in the market, several small wind manufacturers are pursuing continuous improvements to both generator design and manufacturing. However, traditional design and manufacturing methods have yielded marginal improvements in wind power performance. This work presents novel methods to redesign a baseline 15-kW wind turbine generator with reduced rare-earth permanent magnets by leveraging cutting-edge three-dimensional (3D) printed polymer-bonded permanent magnets and steel. Symmetric, asymmetric, and multimaterial-magnet parametrization methods are introduced for shape optimization. We extend the symmetric and asymmetric methods to the back iron in the stator to further investigate the impact and opportunities for performance improvements with lesser active materials. We employ a design-of-experiments approach with parametric computer-aided design for shape generation and evaluate different designs by magneto-thermal modeling and finite-element analysis. We use adaptive sampling technique to identify better performing designs with lesser magnet mass, higher efficiency, and lower cogging torque when compared with the baseline generator. Asymmetric pole designs resulted in a magnet mass in the range of 4.77-5.37 kg, which was 27%-35% lighter than the baseline generator, suggesting that a new design freedom exists that can be enabled by advanced manufacturing, such as 3D printing. Shaping the back iron in the stator resulted in material savings in electrical steel of up to 14.62 kg, which was 20% lighter than the baseline stator. We conducted a structural analysis to evaluate an optimized asymmetric rotor design from the point of view of mechanical integrity and air-gap stiffness. The magnetically optimal shape profile was shown as having a positive impact on the radial stiffness, and an optimal solution was discovered to reduce the structural mass by nearly 30 kg, which was 29% lighter than the baseline.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages30
JournalWind Energy
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5000-87393


  • 3D printed magnets
  • adaptive sampling
  • Bezier curves
  • parametrization
  • structural analysis


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