Sakuu aims to 3D print batteries

Sakuu Corporation, a California-based company previously called KeraCel, has developed an industrial-grade 3D printer – the Sakuu AM – for producing solid state batteries (or SSBs) for use with electric vehicles.

Sakuu has developed a 3D printer platform to produce solid state batteries for the electric vehicle market.

The batteries in question are Sakuu’s own range of KeraCel-branded SSBs that are said to be capable of producing the same energy levels as lithium-ion options but with around 30-50 percent fewer materials, making them half the size and almost a third lighter. Furthermore, these materials can be sourced locally, which should allow for on-demand production with more efficient manufacturing operations and shorter supply chains.

The 3D printer is potentially even more interesting. Whereas most 3D printers are designed around a single technology, the Sakuu AM platform uses a combination of powder bed and jetted material deposition. As such, it’s capable of laying down several  completely different materials in a single layer. The process combines ceramic and metal, as well as Sakuu’s proprietary support material, PoraLyte, used for printing parts with overhangs or internal channels and cavities.

According to Sakuu, this AM platform can create higher energy density SSBs with thin monolithic layers and perfect interface. The company also claims that its batteries are easier to recycle as they are not using graphite, which would have to be extracted, or polymers that would lead to incineration or burial in landfill. Instead, the batteries can be easily crushed back to powder and re-formed into a new device.

To start, the company plans to focus on the two-, three- and smaller four-wheel electric vehicle market where the small form factor, low weight and improved capacity of its batteries will make the biggest impact. This presumably also fits in with the company’s main backer, Musashi Seimitsu, a leading Japanese automotive parts supplier to major OEMs.

Robert Bagheri, Sakuu’s founder, CEO and chairman, says: “For the e-mobility markets specifically, we believe this to be a landmark achievement, and one that could transform consumer adoption of electric vehicles.”

He adds: “SSBs are a holy grail technology, but they are both very difficult and expensive to make. By harnessing the flexibility and efficiency-enhancing capabilities of our unique and scalable AM process, we’re enabling battery manufacturers and EV companies to overcome these fundamental pain points.”

Interestingly, Sakuu says that its printing platform could be adapted to suite different applications in other industry sectors. Certainly the ability to print multiple materials in a single layer would be highly desirable for producing complex devices that are beyond most current 3D printing platforms.

So far, so good. For now, this is just a lot of unsubstantiated claims from a press release but potentially very exciting if Sakuu can deliver on all of this. In the meantime, the company says that its Alpha Platform for its initial hardware offering will be available in Q4 2021. There is a website – sakuu.com – though not much more information.


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