To meet demand, energy storage solutions company Freedom Won has invested in a new Durma CNC synchro press brake

Lithium battery technology supplier overcomes problem for battery enclosures with custom-built press brake.

Fast growing energy storage solutions company Freedom Won has recently invested in a new Durma CNC synchro press brake that has been custom built for the company so that the company can fabricate its battery boxes and enclosures without taking extra stages in the bending process.

“The many advances in battery technology are helping to propel a second revolution in battery-powered transportation and in the automotive industry as a whole. But it is not just the automotive industry that is chasing new technology improvements in the battery performance and life,” said Antony English, co-founder of Freedom Won.

Capacity problems led to lithium battery technology supplier Freedom Won investing in a Durma AD-S 30135 synchro press brake. The installation was done by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa

“As the ‘green strategy’ starts to take hold of the world all manufacturers and distributors in the static energy storage space are also looking to experiment with new battery designs that improves battery capacity – how much it can deliver and for how long. Battery manufacturers are trying to improve the power density of the battery while at the same time minimise the size and weight without sacrificing capacity. In other words batteries that have a long-life high-performance energy storage capacity,” continued English.

“10 years ago lithium-ion was considered by many to be the most promising of automotive batteries because of its potential for longer ranges. Lithium is the lightest of all metals, and so provides the largest energy density for weight, typically twice that of nickel-cadmium, and the greatest electrochemical potential.”

Whether the system is for home use or industrial use, from the beginning Freedom Won wanted an aesthetically, feel-good look to their product. For this reason they use a 3mm aluminium grade material that offers lightness but also strength

“Production improvements over the last 10 years have led to a dramatic reduction in the cost per kilowatt-hour for lithium-ion batteries. This enables manufacturers to add greater battery capacity. They are the next-generation energy storage system as there has been a quantum increase in service life and operational efficiency at a fraction of the lifecycle cost compared to other energy storage options.”

“Freedom Won was established to develop ideas on electric mobility and alternative energy solutions. One of my first success stories was that I converted Jeep Grand Cherokee to electric power and slashed his running costs to an amazing 12 cents per kilometre. I then went on to some more car conversions but it was energy storage systems that really interested me. The country had been experiencing a torrid time with Eskom.”

“After many hours of research and testing we decided on Lithium To Energy – or LiTE – a solution that encompasses the lithium-ion battery technological breakthrough that has transformed our lives, and has given the world a route to energy freedom and environmental recovery. Lithium has been the focus of battery research for decades because it’s an excellent conductor. Like its fellow alkali metals on the far left of the periodic table, lithium has a single outer electron that it easily gives up. That creates a really high voltage and compared with other alkalis, such as potassium or sodium, lithium has the smallest ion size and third-lowest atomic weight on the periodic table meaning more electrons and charge for a given battery size.”

Durma have custom-built a machine for Freedom Won that includes an extended daylight X-axis length of 650mm, an extended stroke of 365mm and an extended throat depth of 450mm. This will allow the company to complete the bending process without the extra steps that they were taking

“The advanced LiTE range of stationary energy storage products was introduced by Freedom Won in 2015 offers a premium, high-performance, long-life and safe solution serving needs from residential through to industrial or utility scale storage systems.”

“Although you may have to dig deeper into your pocket to be part of this new wave of highly efficient technology, the LiFePO4 battery is more than compensated for by longer life. The life cycle economics for Freedom Won LiTE batteries is already extremely robust and surpasses any other battery technology at the current prices.”

“We don’t manufacture the batteries – those are imported from China – but rather we have developed integrated system solutions for energy storage that includes the required batteries and inverters. Storage systems can be configured from 5kWh for home use up to 5MWh, a modular containerised battery for large scale industrial and utility applications.”

Aesthetics
“Whether the system is for home use or industrial use, from the beginning I wanted an aesthetically, feel-good look to our product. Batteries stacked on top of each other in your garage with wires running from them do not look pretty.”

“We put emphasis on the design of the boxes or enclosures that house the batteries. Whether it is a box or enclosure will depend on the size of your system. Not only did we concentrate on the design but also the finish and as a result all of our product is powder coated in a white finish so that they are attractive looking.”

The five models that Freedom Won manufacture for the home environment weigh in from 50kgs up to 280kgs

“Extensive size/capacity options allow the user to select one unit to satisfy the storage capacity needs for their system thus simplifying installation and commissioning and resulting in a compact, safer, neater solution.”

“Universally we are using a 3mm aluminium grade material that offers us lightness but also strength. You need this because the five models that we manufacture for the home environment, for example, weigh in from 50kgs up to 280kgs. Industrial systems housed in containers can vary from 2.6 tons up to 11 tons.”

Forming challenges: Custom-built Durma CNC synchro press brake bending
“All our sheet metal requirements are outsourced and cut-to-size, as was all our bending and welding, but this is now done by ourselves. We started with our own bending operation with a relatively small machine, but the demand for lithium-ion batteries for use in energy storage has seen exponential growth, as we have seen in our products.”

“As a result we had capacity problems and have now invested in a Durma AD-S 30135 synchro press brake. However, we had some forming challenges when bending that we had to take into account before deciding to purchase. We changed our battery supplier whose batteries are bigger than the ones we were using. This resulted in us having to increase the depth of the boxes but no ‘off-the-shelf’ standard press brake could accommodate our requirements. Standard machines are designed around an intended function. While manufacturers offer different throat depths and stroke lengths, the machinery is intended to complete the same basic function – straight-line metal bending.”

“This resulted in extra steps in the bending process and as we all know the extra time costs money.”

Industrial systems housed in containers can vary from 2.6 tons up to 11 tons

“Durma have custom-built a machine for us that includes an extended daylight X-axis length of 650mm, an extended stroke of 365mm and an extended throat depth of 450mm. This will allow us to complete the bending process without the extra steps that we were taking. Coupled with the special purpose Eurostamp tooling and the automatic crowning function we don’t have any clashing, in fact we have a 80mm clearance now. The project took at least six months to configure and we installed the 135 ton, 3 050mm length machine in November 2021. The installation was done by Spectrum Machine Tools Africa.”

“To give you an idea of the processing improvements that we are now achieving, production that used to take a whole day is now done in three hours. To counteract any bottlenecks downstream we have addressed the situation.”

Extra factories
“With the industry and our business transforming at such a rapid rate we have had to look at expansion and make relatively quick decisions. Our staff compliment has gone from 70 to 160 in the last four months. We have also rented a further two factories in the Kimbult Industrial Park, Laser Park, Honeydew factory complex where we are renting, which we have only been in since 2019.”

“We have also signed a lease for another facility across the road. What it has allowed us to do is organise production so that we have a flow that is more effective and efficient.”

“We put emphasis on the design of the boxes or enclosures that house the batteries. Whether it is a box or enclosure will depend on the size of your system. Not only did we concentrate on the design but also the finish and as a result all of our product is powder coated in a white finish so that they are attractive looking.”

“We are not just a bend, weld, assemble and sell company. Extensive whole-system R&D at Freedom Won has resulted in world leading integrated solutions – proven combinations of Freedom Won batteries and battery inverters – guaranteeing advanced interfacing and functionality for high performance, versatility and safety.”

“Additionally, we market our product to distributors so we do not sell direct to the public. We also have a list of accredited installers by country and region. We are supplying many countries in Africa and are also shipping product to Europe, Australia and New Zealand.”

For further details visit www.freedomwon.co.za