(19)
(11)EP 3 503 355 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
26.06.2019 Bulletin 2019/26

(21)Application number: 18214068.1

(22)Date of filing:  19.12.2018
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
H02K 5/18(2006.01)
H02K 9/06(2006.01)
H02K 11/33(2016.01)
H02K 5/20(2006.01)
H02K 11/00(2016.01)
H02K 9/22(2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME
Designated Validation States:
KH MA MD TN

(30)Priority: 19.12.2017 US 201715846723

(71)Applicant: TTI (Macao Commercial Offshore) Limited
Macao (MO)

(72)Inventors:
  • Gregorich, Brent N.
    Easley, SC South Carolina 29642 (US)
  • Romano, Michael
    Easley, SC South Carolina 29642 (US)
  • Clack, Justin
    Oak Grove, LA Louisiana 71263 (US)
  • McCurry, Ronald Cecil
    West Union, SC South Carolina 29696 (US)
  • Moylan, Julia H
    Anderson, SC South Carolina 29621 (US)

(74)Representative: Stevenson-Hill, Jack Patrick 
Marks & Clerk LLP 1 New York Street
Manchester M1 4HD
Manchester M1 4HD (GB)

  


(54)ELECTRIC MOTOR ASSEMBLY WITH HEAT SINK


(57) A power tool includes a housing and an electric motor assembly supported in the housing. The electric motor assembly includes a stator core and a circuit board proximate an end of the stator core. The circuit board includes a heat-generating component facing away from the stator core. The electric motor assembly also includes an end cap coupled to the stator core and in thermal contact with the heat-generating component as a heat sink to remove thermal energy from the heat-generating component.




Description

TECHNICAL FIELD



[0001] The present invention relates to electric motors, in particular to providing a heat sink to the electric motor.

BACKGROUND



[0002] Typical brushless direct current electric motors are electrically coupled to a printed circuit board, which includes field effect transistors (FETs) that power the electric motor. As the FETs power the electric motor, the FETs generate heat, which could increase the temperature of the printed circuit board or other components of the electric motor.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION



[0003] In one aspect, there is provided a power tool includes a housing and an electric motor assembly supported in the housing. The electric motor assembly includes a stator core and a circuit board proximate an end of the stator core. The circuit board includes a heat-generating component facing away from the stator core. The electric motor assembly also includes an end cap coupled to the stator core and in thermal contact with the heat-generating component as a heat sink to remove thermal energy from the heat-generating component.

[0004] The power tool may further comprise a battery pack supported by the housing and electrically connected with the electrical terminal to selectively supply power to the heat-generating component.

[0005] In another aspect, there is provided an electric motor assembly includes a stator core and a circuit board proximate an end of the stator core. The circuit board includes a heat-generating component facing away from the stator core. The electric motor assembly also includes an end cap coupled to the stator core and in thermal contact with the heat-generating component as a heat sink to remove thermal energy from the heat-generating component.

[0006] The circuit board may be positioned between the end cap and the end of the stator core. The end cap may include a protrusion extending from an inner surface of the end cap. The protrusion may be in thermal contact with the heat-generating component.

[0007] The electric motor assembly may further comprise a thermal pad positioned between the protrusion and the heat-generating component. The protrusion may be in direct contact with the thermal pad. The thermal pad may be in direct contact with the heat-generating component.

[0008] The end cap may include a radially extending aperture. The protrusion may be at least partially disposed in the radially extending aperture.

[0009] The end cap may include an end wall from which the protrusion extends, and a circumferential side wall at least partially defining the radially extending aperture.

[0010] The radially extending aperture may be a first radially extending aperture. The end cap may include a second radially extending aperture through which the circuit board extends.

[0011] The circuit board may include an electrical terminal disposed on a portion of the circuit board extending through the second radially extending aperture in the end cap. The electrical terminal is configured to provide power to the heat-generating component.

[0012] The end cap may include a plurality of cooling fins extending from the end wall in an opposite direction as the protrusion.

[0013] The cooling fins may be oriented in a radial direction relative to a central axis of the stator core.

[0014] The electric motor assembly may further include a fan that induces an airflow through the radially extending aperture to cool the protrusion and the heat-generating component.

[0015] The protrusion may be a first protrusion and the heat-generating component may be a first heat-generating component. The circuit board may include a second heat-generating component facing away from the stator core. The end cap may include a second protrusion extending from the inner surface of the end cap in thermal contact with the second heat-generating component.

[0016] The circuit board may include a third heat-generating component facing away from the stator core. The end cap may include a third protrusion extending from the inner surface of the end cap in thermal contact with the third heat-generating component.

[0017] The first, second, and third heat-generating components may be field effect transistors.

[0018] The electric motor assembly may further include a rotor disposed within the stator core. A first end of the rotor may be rotatably supported by the end cap.

[0019] The end cap may be a first end cap. The electric motor assembly may further include a second end cap coupled to an end of the stator core opposite the circuit board. A second end of the rotor may be rotatably supported by the second end cap.

[0020] It will be appreciated that, where appropriate, any of the optional features discussed above in relation to one aspect of the invention may be applied to another aspect of the invention.

[0021] Other aspects of the invention will become apparent by consideration of the detailed description and accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS



[0022] 

FIG. 1 is a side view of a power tool.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of an electric motor assembly in accordance with an embodiment of the invention supported in the power tool of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an exploded view of the electric motor assembly of FIG. 2 including a stator core, a rotor, and a printed circuit board positioned between a front end cap and a rear end cap.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the rear end cap illustrating a plurality of protrusions extending from an inner surface of the rear end cap.

FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of the electric motor assembly of FIG. 2, illustrating one of the plurality of protrusions directly contacting a heat-generating component of the printed circuit board.



[0023] Before any embodiments of the invention are explained in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and the arrangement of components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the following drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced or of being carried out in various ways.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION



[0024] FIG. 1 illustrates a power tool 10 (e.g., a router operable to cut into a workpiece) that includes a housing 15 and a brushless direct current (DC) electric motor assembly 20 supported in the housing 15. The motor assembly 20 is electrically coupled to a rechargeable battery pack 25, which is selectively coupled to the housing 15. Using power from the battery pack 25, a motor controller 26 (e.g., one or more microprocessors connected to one or more printed circuit boards) operates the motor assembly 20 to drive a drive mechanism 30 about a rotational axis 35 in response to an actuator 40 (e.g., a trigger button) of the power tool 10 being depressed. The illustrated drive mechanism 30 is a chuck that selectively couples a tool bit (e.g., a twist drill bit, a router bit, etc.) to the power tool 10 for the motor assembly 20 to drive the tool bit about the rotational axis 35. In other embodiments, the power tool 10 can be a reciprocating saw, a rotary saw, a hammer drill, a grinder, a nailer, a sander, a shear, or the like with the particular power tool including an appropriate drive mechanism in order to carry out the specific function of the power tool. In addition, the illustrated battery pack 25 is a lithium-ion battery pack, but in other embodiments, the battery pack 25 can be a lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, etc. battery pack.

[0025] With reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the illustrated motor assembly 20 includes a rotor 45 having magnets (not shown) fixed to an output shaft 50 that is coupled to the drive mechanism 30, a stator core 55 having a central cavity 60 that receives the rotor 45 about the rotational axis 35, a front end cap 65 coupled to a front end 70 of the stator core 55, a rear end cap 75 coupled to a rear end 80 of the stator core 55, and a printed circuit board 85 (PCB) positioned between the stator core 55 and the rear end cap 75. A front portion of the output shaft 50 is rotatably supported by a first bearing 105, which is seated within a front bearing housing 110 of the front end cap 65. Likewise, a rear portion of the output shaft 50 is rotatably supported by a second bearing 115, which is seated within a rear bearing housing 120 of the rear end cap 75, so that the output shaft 50 is rotatably supported by the front and rear end caps 65, 75 about the rotational axis 35. In one embodiment, the second bearing 115 can be press fit into the rear bearing housing 120. Once the motor assembly 20 is assembled, the front end cap 65 and the rear end cap 75 are fixed to the stator core 55 by fasteners 90 extending through mounting apertures 95 formed in a circumferential sidewall 100 of each of the front and rear end caps 65, 75. Specifically, by tightening the fasteners 90, the front and rear end caps 65, 75 apply a clamping force to the stator core 55, thereby fixing the stator core 55 to the front and rear end caps 65, 75. In the illustrated embodiment, the mounting apertures 95 formed in the front end cap 65 are threaded to receive the threaded ends of the respective fasteners 90, whereby the mounting apertures 95 in the rear end cap 75 are unthreaded.

[0026] With continued reference to FIGS. 2 and 3, the motor assembly 20 also includes a fan 125 fixed to the output shaft 50 and positioned between the front end 70 of the stator core 55 and the first bearing 105. The illustrated fan 125 is at least partially received within the front end cap 65 and includes cooling blades 130 extending toward the stator core 55 that radially align with airflow apertures 135 formed through the circumferential sidewall 100 of the front end cap 65 (FIG. 2).

[0027] As best shown in FIGS. 2-4, the rear end cap 75 includes an end wall 140 from which the circumferential sidewall 100 of the rear end cap 75 extends. The rear end cap 75 also includes protrusions 145 (FIG. 4) extending from an inner surface 150 of the end wall 140 toward the PCB 85. Each protrusion 145 is positioned adjacent a radially extending aperture 155 in the rear end cap 75, with each radially extending aperture 155 at least partially defined by the circumferential sidewall 100 of the rear end cap 75. In particular, each radially extending aperture 155 is defined by a portion of the circumferential sidewall 100 as well as a portion of the end wall 140 with at least a portion of each protrusion 145 being disposed in one radially extending aperture 155. In the illustrated embodiment, the rear end cap 75 includes three protrusions 145 equally spaced 120 degrees about the rotational axis 35. In other embodiments, the rear end cap 75 can include more or fewer than three protrusions 145 that are equally spaced or non-equally spaced about the rotational axis 35.

[0028] With reference to FIG. 3, the PCB 85, which is electrically coupled to the controller 26, includes a side 160 that interfaces with the rear end cap 75. In particular, the side 160 includes mounting apertures 165, each of which receives a post 170 extending from the end wall 140 of the rear end cap 75 (FIG. 4) to attach the PCB 85 to the rear end cap 75. With reference to FIG. 3, the PCB 85 includes heat-generating components (e.g., metal-oxide semiconductor FETs 175 and current sense resistors 180), a thermistor 185, and other electrical components (e.g., capacitors, diodes, voltage sensors, etc.) extending from the side 160 of the PCB 85. As such, the heat-generating components face away from the stator core 55 and toward the rear end cap 75. In the illustrated embodiment, the PCB 85 includes three pairs 195 of FETs 175 spaced about the rotational axis 35 in the same manner as the protrusions 145 of the rear end cap 75 (i.e., equally spaced 120 degrees about the rotational axis 35). As a result, the respective protrusions 145 are in thermal contact with the pairs 195 of FETs 175 when the PCB 85 is attached to the posts 170 as described above. In particular, each protrusion 145 includes an end surface 200 (FIG. 4) that is in direct contact with one side of a thermal pad 205 (e.g., a highly thermal conductive member such as copper, aluminum, etc.) and another side of the thermal pad 205 is in direct contact with a pair 195 of FETs 175 (FIG. 5) and additional heat-generating components on the PCB 85 (e.g., a current sense resistor 180). In other embodiments, the thermal pads 205 can be omitted such that the heat sink protrusions 145 directly contact the FETs 175 and the current sense resistor(s) 180. In further embodiments, the PCB 85 can include more or fewer than three pairs 195, and/or a different number of FETs 175 (and current sense resistors 180) can be associated with each pair 195. In yet further embodiments, the heat sink protrusions 145 and/or the thermal pads 205 can directly contact heat-generating components of the PCB 85 other than the FETs 175 and the current sense resistors 180. In addition, the PCB 85 includes a projection 210 that extends through one of the radially extending apertures 155 (FIG. 2). Electrical terminals 215 are positioned on the PCB projection 210, outside the rear end cap 75, for connection with electrical wires (not shown) connected at their opposite ends to the battery pack 25. In other embodiments, the PCB projection 210 can be omitted such that the electrical terminals 215 are positioned inside the rear end cap 75.

[0029] In operation, the battery pack 25 provides DC power to the various electrical components of the PCB 85 by supplying an electrical current to the electrical terminals 215. The controller 26 is configured to monitor the electrical current drawn by the motor assembly 20 using current sense resistors 180 on the PCB 85. In addition, as the electrical current travels through the PCB 85, the electrical current provides operating power to the FETs 175. In particular, by selectively activating the FETs 175, power from the battery pack 25 is selectively applied to the stator core 55 to cause rotation of the output shaft 50 about the rotational axis 35 to operate the drive mechanism 30. As the electrical current passes through the FETs 175 and the current sense resistors 180, the FETs 175 and the current sense resistors 180 generate heat (i.e., thermal energy), which if not dissipated, could otherwise decrease the performance of the motor assembly 20. The rear end cap 75 functions as a heat sink for the PCB 85 to remove thermal energy from the FETs 175 and the current sense resistors 180, and to direct the thermal energy away from the stator core 55 and the rotor 45. In particular, the thermal energy generated by the FETs 175 and the current sense resistors 180 dissipates through the thermal pads 205, the protrusions 145 and into the end wall 140, ultimately to be dissipated by convection (at least partially) through cooling fins 225 extending from an outer surface 220 of the rear end cap 75.

[0030] Moreover, as the battery pack 25 powers the motor assembly 20, the fan 125 rotates about the rotational axis 35 to induce an airflow through the motor assembly 20. In particular, as the output shaft 50 rotates, the airflow enters the motor assembly 20 through the radially extending apertures 155, travels forwardly through the central cavity 60 between the stator core 55 and the rotor 45, and exits the motor assembly 20 through the airflow apertures 135. As the airflow moves through the radially extending apertures 155, the airflow cools the heat sink protrusions 145, the thermal pads 205, the FETs 175, and the current sense resistors 180 to also dissipate thermal energy away from the motor assembly 20.

[0031] Furthermore, the thermistor 185 is in direct contact with another thermal pad 205, which is in direct contact with another protrusion 146 extending from the end wall 140 of the rear end cap 75 and is configured to send a signal to the controller 26 if the temperature of the rear end cap 75 exceeds a predetermined threshold. In one embodiment, the predetermined threshold is a maximum operating temperature of the FETs 175 so that the controller 26 can deactivate the motor assembly 20 to prevent damage when the thermistor 185 detects that the temperature of the rear end cap 75, which is approximately equal to the temperature of the FETs 175, exceeds the predetermined threshold. In other embodiments, the predetermined threshold can be lower than the maximum operating temperature of the FETs 175 (e.g., 90% of the maximum operating temperature).

[0032] Although the invention has been described in detail with reference to certain preferred embodiments, variations and modifications exist within the scope and spirit of one or more independent aspects of the invention as described. Various features and advantages of the invention are set forth in the following claims.


Claims

1. An electric motor assembly comprising:

a stator core;

a circuit board proximate an end of the stator core, the circuit board including a heat-generating component facing away from the stator core; and

an end cap coupled to the stator core and in thermal contact with the heat-generating component as a heat sink to remove thermal energy from the heat-generating component.


 
2. The electric motor assembly of claim 1, wherein the circuit board is positioned between the end cap and the end of the stator core, wherein the end cap includes a protrusion extending from an inner surface of the end cap, and wherein the protrusion is in thermal contact with the heat-generating component.
 
3. The electric motor assembly of claim 2, further comprising a thermal pad positioned between the protrusion and the heat-generating component, wherein the protrusion is in direct contact with the thermal pad, and wherein the thermal pad is in direct contact with the heat-generating component.
 
4. The electric motor assembly of claim 2, wherein the end cap includes a radially extending aperture, and wherein the protrusion is at least partially disposed in the radially extending aperture.
 
5. The electric motor assembly of claim 4, wherein the end cap includes
an end wall from which the protrusion extends, and
a circumferential side wall at least partially defining the radially extending aperture.
 
6. The electric motor assembly of claim 5, wherein the radially extending aperture is a first radially extending aperture, and wherein the end cap includes a second radially extending aperture through which the circuit board extends.
 
7. The electric motor assembly of claim 6, wherein the circuit board includes an electrical terminal disposed on a portion of the circuit board extending through the second radially extending aperture in the end cap, and wherein the electrical terminal is configured to provide power to the heat-generating component.
 
8. The electric motor assembly of claim 5, wherein the end cap includes a plurality of cooling fins extending from the end wall in an opposite direction as the protrusion; and
optionally, the cooling fins are oriented in a radial direction relative to a central axis of the stator core.
 
9. The electric motor assembly of claim 4, wherein the electric motor assembly further includes a fan that induces an airflow through the radially extending aperture to cool the protrusion and the heat-generating component.
 
10. The electric motor assembly of any one of claims 2 to 9, wherein the protrusion is a first protrusion and the heat-generating component is a first heat-generating component, wherein the circuit board includes a second heat-generating component facing away from the stator core, and wherein the end cap includes a second protrusion extending from the inner surface of the end cap in thermal contact with the second heat-generating component;
optionally, the circuit board includes a third heat-generating component facing away from the stator core, and wherein the end cap includes a third protrusion extending from the inner surface of the end cap in thermal contact with the third heat-generating component; and
further optionally, the first, second, and third heat-generating components are field effect transistors.
 
11. The electric motor assembly of any one of claims 1 to 9, wherein the electric motor assembly further includes a rotor disposed within the stator core, and wherein a first end of the rotor is rotatably supported by the end cap.
 
12. The electric motor assembly of claim 1, wherein the end cap is a first end cap, and wherein the electric motor assembly further includes a second end cap coupled to an end of the stator core opposite the circuit board, and wherein a second end of the rotor is rotatably supported by the second end cap.
 
13. The electric motor assembly of claim 12,
wherein the first and second end caps are fastened together to apply a clamping force to the stator core;
OR
wherein the electric motor assembly further includes a fan at least partially received within the second end cap.
 
14. A power tool comprising:

a housing; and

an electric motor assembly according to any one of claims 1-13 that is supported in the housing.


 
15. The power tool of claim 14, further comprising a battery pack supported by the housing and electrically connected with the electrical terminal to selectively supply power to the heat-generating component.
 




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