The manufacturing world is rapidly changing. Companies are working to become faster, smarter, and greener. These changes are driven by technology trends and growing demand for more resilient supply chains.
Among the key technologies in play are MIM parts. They offer a number of advantages over traditional metal parts made with other methods.
The ability to achieve complex-shaped, small parts at competitive prices and short lead times has triggered the use of MIM technology by many manufacturers. In fact, MIM parts are more cost-effective than similar parts produced by traditional manufacturing techniques such as machining, stamping, and forging.
MIM is a process suitable for a variety of metals, including stainless steel and titanium. It also offers the possibility of a complete range of secondary operations, such as heat treatment, surface treatment, machining and joining, and shipping. It is therefore a cost-effective and reliable alternative to machining for low-to medium-volume production runs of high-performance components.
The main disadvantage of MIM is that it requires a dedicated mold for each part design. This can increase the cost of the production run, especially if any changes are needed to the original design. Moreover, the cost of the tooling is not amortized over time, as it may need to be replaced after a certain number of runs.
A key benefit of MIM is that it allows the creation of complex metal shapes that cannot be produced with conventional machining. This makes it a great choice for manufacturing small parts with complicated geometry. In addition, it can produce features such as knurled and external threads. This makes it easier to integrate multiple functions into a single-part design.
Another important feature of MIM is its ability to produce high-volume components with tight tolerances. This helps manufacturers avoid expensive machining and saves time and money. Additionally, MIM is a flexible process that can work with various types of metals and alloys.
To make the most of MIM’s benefits, CMOs should consult with OEM customers to ensure that their designs achieve the target functionality at cost. This will help them to develop innovative solutions that can compete with traditional processes. Detailed cost models and process capability data are also critical for selecting the right technology for each component.
MIM is a very complex metalworking technology. It mixes finely powdered metals with binder materials, and molds and forms these into complex shapes, then debinds and sinters them into finished metal components. This gives design engineers the freedom to create intricate parts and avoids limitations of other metalworking processes.
MIM parts can be produced with very thin walls and tight tolerances. This makes them perfect for electronic components where size and performance are key factors. For example, Apple’s lightning connector and force sensors in industrial robots are MIM parts made from high-grade stainless steel. Small titanium and titanium alloy brackets used in orthodontics are also MIM parts because they can be produced in volume with a high level of accuracy.
MIM parts are amenable to secondary operations like heat treatment, surface finishing, machining, and joining. They are also inspected for dimensional accuracy and chemical analyses. This allows designers to optimize the product and save on expensive post-operations.
MIM is a very scalable technology for high-volume production of tightly toleranced small metal components. Its dimensional stability allows for the manufacture of complex shapes. It also eliminates secondary operations, such as machining, which can be expensive and time-consuming.
MIM coldplates offer maximum design flexibility, allowing designers to implement innovative designs and features. These include hexagonal, square, splined or blind holes at different angles to each other, internal threading, knurling, and raised letters/impressions.
Medical designers are increasingly embracing MIM for the production of their products. The process is particularly suited to surgical instruments and implants. MIM is able to produce parts with complex geometries, and its ability to retain shape integrity during the conditioning process ensures that the finished product performs well. MIM is a low-risk and flexible technology that offers manufacturers a significant opportunity to improve their productivity, without sacrificing quality or accuracy. This enables them to cut costs and deliver higher-value products to their customers.