Over the past year or so, CleanTechnica has published several stories about Sakuu, the innovative battery company located in Silicon Valley (where else?) that is working to bring 3D-printed solid-state batteries to market.
Last June, Robert Bagheri, founder and CEO of Sakuu, said in a press release, “As far as our solid state battery development, we are preparing to unveil a new category of rapid printed batteries manufactured at scale using our additive manufacturing platform. The sustainability and supply chain implications of this pioneering development will be transformational.” Based on the company’s Kavian platform, the rapid 3D-printed batteries will enable customizable, mass scale, and cost effective manufacturing of solid-state batteries while solving fundamental challenges confronting battery manufacturers today, the company said at that time.
Sakuu Manufactures Solid-State Batteries In Custom Shapes
On February 16, Sakuu announced it has successfully and consistently manufactured 3D-printed fully functional batteries in custom shapes and sizes in a fully dry process at its Silicon Valley battery pilot line facility since December of last year. These batteries cells contain patterned openings for thermal management.
The company says in its announcement shared with CleanTechnica that this marks a first of its kind recorded manufacturing achievement and is an important step towards Sakuu’s planned commercial scale production of next-generation SwiftPrint batteries, including solid-state batteries, from its Kavian platform in gigafactories worldwide.
Karl Littau, Chief Technology Officer at Sakuu, tells CleanTechnica, “Our development shows that the KavianTM platform can enable commercial scale, sustainable production of a wide range of battery technologies from lithium ion to lithium metal to even solid state batteries, whereas traditional methods of advanced cell manufacturing continually run into core impediments that prevent mass scale production.
“Further, our printing process can allow for substantial gains in energy density for a completed battery. Finally, our platform can customize the form factor of the battery whereby the battery itself can become part of product design via customized shapes and sizes. This is a profound moment with enormous implications for advanced battery manufacturing.”
Sakuu Proprietary Solid-State Battery Factory
Sakuu has invented a fully industrialized process for printing batteries using a proprietary multi-material, multi-layer approach in a parallel and dry process instead of the much slower layer-on-layer printing or screen printing. Both of those are wet processes that require significant energy to remove unwanted solvents and are susceptible to poor printing quality and unreliable production.
The Sakuu invention can deliver low cost, high speed manufacturing capability coupled with flexibility in shape and form while also delivering batteries in core categories that matter most to clients and customers alike. For example, Sakuu’s first printed batteries have demonstrated successful cycling performance at C/5 IC current rates and the company fully expects to achieve high energy densities of 800 to 1000 Wh/L.
Utilizing proprietary lithium metal battery chemistry, Sakuu’s printing process starts with raw material and ends with a ready-to-use patterned battery, creating a new paradigm in manufacturing and energy storage. The achievement of patterned battery printing enables a more effective use of battery cell volume with new pathways in thermal dynamic regulation.
This allows integration of fixturing, sensors, and thermal transport pathways, as well as regulation through the patterned design, especially when thin sub-cell battery structures are stacked with identical patterned openings for thermal management in alignment.
“Collectively, our additive manufacturing and battery teams have accomplished what most thought impossible. Printing custom patterned batteries using a dry process that starts with raw material and concludes with a fully functional high-performance battery is a breakthrough that has the potential to transform how batteries of the future are manufactured for all industries,” said Robert Bagheri. “This milestone advances integration between our KavianTM platform and our commercial scale battery production plans towards an energy output goal of 200 GWh by 2030 via a network of global partner gigafactories.”
Sakuu’s Kavian platform will be sold to other battery manufacturers as well as leading automotive, e-mobility, and aerospace manufacturers. Those seeking to mass produce batteries can shorten their supply chains and gain key cell performance and safety attributes. Other inherent material and energy savings and sustainability benefits are realized by such maximum product design innovation.
In addition, Sakuu plans on licensing its own battery chemistries, both lithium-metal and solid-state, to be produced with either traditional roll-to-roll manufacturing or in gigafactories utilizing Kavian manufacturing techniques.
Sakuu says its pioneering manufacturing technology has created a disruptive additive manufacturing platform for commercial production of batteries and other complex active devices. Its non-battery manufacturing platforms are capable of producing medical devices, IoT sensors, and other cutting edge electrical devices and doing so in a highly sustainable and efficient manner, according to the company.
In its press release today, Sakuu says its initial efforts will focus on energy storage using its Kavian platform to print a range of next generation batteries — from lithium metal to all-solid-state — that can help reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels.
According to 3D Printing Industry, “The company appears to be on the track it has planned out. With twice the energy density and 30% less weight than existing Li-ion cells, the firm’s second-gen batteries have potential residential and industrial applications within energy storage, micro-reactors and electronics.”
There are many companies racing to bring solid-state batteries to market, including QuantumScape and StoreDot. One of the principal benefits of solid-state batteries is that they significantly reduce the need to remove liquids from the “wet” substrates used in conventional lithium-ion batteries — a process that takes a substantial amount of time to complete and consumes large quantities of energy to accomplish. Eliminating the wet slurry currently used in the “jelly roll” batteries of today will greatly speed up production times and lower battery unit costs.
There is no guarantee that Sakuu will win the solid-state battery sweepstakes, but it certainly has lofty ambitions. 200 GWh a year of batteries is enough to power millions of battery-electric cars and trucks. CATL, the world’s largest battery manufacturer today produced 97 GWh in 2021, almost a third of the worldwide total of 297 GWh. Even Sakuu’s more modest goal of 60 GWh by 2028 is quite ambitious.
It now has actual early production battery cells in the hands of potential customers in the automotive sector and other industries. We know our readers want to see technical data about how the Sakuu batteries perform, and we have reached out to Sakuu to see if they are willing to share that information with us. This is a very competitive industry that jealously guards its proprietary information. If we get any further information from the company, we will share it with our readers.
UPDATE: The Sakuu team answered our questions, as seen below.
Q: Where does the name Sakuu come from and what does it mean?
Our founder and CEO, Robert Bagheri, is originally from Iran. In Farsi, Sakuu means “platform,” which relates to our revolutionary Kavian additive manufacturing platform. The name Sakuu also serves as a nod to one of Sakuu’s earliest corporate investors, Musashi from Japan. In Japanese, Sakuu means “to blossom,” symbolizing our platform as a creator and its inherent sustainability benefits.
Q: Our readers like technical details. How fast do the 3D-printed cells charge? How much do they weigh compared to ordinary Li-ion batteries? What is the cost advantage? How many charging cycles are they good for?
The 3D-printed patterned cell is a single-layer cell. Single-layer cells allow patterning and sealing active materials, adapting to the product’s 3D packaging space. The 3D-printing process also enables the use of thinner layers than in conventional roll-to-roll. Integrated manufacturing processes can then stack the single-layer cells Kavian produces. So we will stack the cells after manufacturing to build the battery pack the customer wants, in series or in parallel. There is no number limit to stack depending on customer request. A patterned battery can have any shape, allowing much better integration and packaging efficiency in its target product. Channels, holes, and non-regular 2D and 3D shapes will be possible because of this innovation.
We have achieved 800 Wh/L for our high-energy density cells, but we can also provide cells with higher cycle life at lower energy densities. Our goal is to build batteries that precisely meet the specific needs and use cases of various Sakuu customers. We see a clear pathway to 1200Wh/l with our to be 3D printed solid-state battery line.
The cost advantage comes from Sakuu’s additive manufacturing technology is estimated to use up to 40% less material compared to roll to roll manufacturing, which is the major component of battery cost today.
Q: Are they recyclable? Do they use cobalt or other materials that are problematic in terms of supply?
The materials used in the Kavian platform can be broken down and reused, leading to more sustainable production with less than 1% material waste. The benefits add up impressively: With Kavian we anticipate 69% fewer manufacturing process steps, 44% smaller factory footprints, 33% lower manufacturing costs, and 23% lower CapEx compared to traditional roll-to-roll battery manufacturing.
In terms of materials, the chemistry of our battery is proprietary and we cannot reveal how we work with different materials and what material set we use. What we can say is that Sakuu is consciously building a network of suppliers that will enable it to ramp up scaled production of batteries, including its recently announced partnership with NGK Spark Plugs as its global ceramic materials supplier.
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