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Higher efficiency MIM furnaces through new materials and design solutions
Feature article: PIM International, Vol.4 No.3 September 2010, pages 55-58, 1710 words
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The metal injection moulding process can be extremely demanding on sintering furnaces and related fixtures and supports. High temperatures, combined with the presence of binder systems, can lead to a rapid deterioration in furnace performance and efficiency.
Dr. Bernd Kleinpass, from PLANSEE Metall GmbH in Austria, explores some of the main problems and the solutions that are now available.
The furnace requirements for the sintering of metal injection moulded (MIM) parts are extremely demanding. Temperatures can range from 1200°C to 1600°C, with the need for a high degree of temperature uniformity and a controllable environment, from vacuum over partial pressure using different gases to pressurised cooling, for example.
Cleanliness is also critical because of thermal debinding, the frequent presence of catalytic agents, and the need to avoid carbon contamination. Furnace durability is additionally impacted by economic factors that demand high yields, resulting in the dense packing of parts.
Since MIM is a steadily growing market, furnace manufacturers have developed unique concepts for their sintering furnaces. Most of these concepts use molybdenum all metal hot zones, molybdenum heating elements, and molybdenum carrier and handling hardware......
Further sections of this article include:
- Molybdenum products in MIM sintering furnaces
- Doped Molybdenum material
- Enerzone: Innovation for less energy consumption
Figures and Tables:
Fig. 1 Molybdenum coating on ceramics due to oxygen contamination (left) and deformation of molybdenum heating elements due to carburisation (right)
Fig. 2 MIM Furnace components made of molybdenum based materials
Fig. 3 Example of charging assembly in continuous furnaces
Fig. 4 Carrier devices used in MIM furnaces
Fig. 5 Replacement MIM box with optimised load capacity
Fig. 6 Sagging behaviour of different molybdenum materials (load for 1.5 hours at 1600°C in a high-vacuum furnace)
Fig. 7 Original MIM furnace hot zone (left) and advanced re-designed hot zone (right)
Fig. 8 MIM hot zone utilising all-metal shielding, ML for heating element and U-shaped hearth rails
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