Japan’s Iwaki Diecast Co., Ltd. has officially opened a new state of the art Metal Injection Moulding facility in Miyagi prefecture, part of the Tohoku district of Northern Japan. The new 5,700 m2 factory is located on a 520,000 m2 site and employs 80 people. It is expected that around two million MIM parts will be shipped every month.
Iwaki Diecast was founded in 1968 by Yoshio Saito, now its Chairman, as an aluminium, zinc and magnesium die-casting manufacturer and in 2018 will celebrate its 50th anniversary. It is today a major supplier of investment castings to Japan’s automotive industry. The company launched its MIM business in 1986 and as early as 1990 it began producing MIM parts in continuous sintering furnaces, an innovative development at a time when batch furnaces dominated the industry.
Iwaki Diecast’s plant currently operates three continuous MIM sintering furnaces, however this number is planned to increase as demand for components rises. In addition to serving well-established markets such as automotive, orthodontic and industrial equipment/robotics, the company plans to use its expertise in MIM technology to expand into the medical device market.
The company’s Metal Injection Moulding business was badly affected by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, which caused devastation to the region. Fortunately, no employees were injured and the MIM operation had partly reopened by May 2011. The rapid reopening of the facility was regarded as critical given the importance of its products to major national industries and the revival of the company was seen as a symbol of the revival of the Tohoku area, receiving nationwide media coverage. The MIM division’s new factory is built on land that wasn’t affected by the 2011 tsunami.
One of the reported characteristics of the Iwaki Diecast’s MIM operation is that it can debind and sinter MIM parts of different steel types and shapes at the same time in its continuous sintering furnace. This technological development has improved operational efficiency and allows the factory to overcome some of the inherent disadvantages of continuous sintering furnaces with regards to multiple materials and component types.