Metal Injection Molding in the automotive industry

Automotive Metal Injection Molding applications

The automotive sector has become a major consumer of Metal Injection Molded parts. High strength, high complexity parts are used in engines, gearboxes, turbochargers, locking mechanisms, steering systems and electronic systems, to name just a few.

Rocker arms for BMW engines

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - Rocker_arm
MIM rocker arms produced by Schunk Sintermetalltechnik GmbH, Germany

A good example of a MIM rocker arm is the roller following type arm shown.

This rocker arm was used for engines with a variable valve stroke and was made from low alloy steel. It featured a hollow configuration, saving weight, which is difficult to achieve by other processes.

The variable valve lift enhanced engine performance and reduced fuel consumption. Around 4.5 million parts were produced annually using a hardenable 50NiCrMo2.2 steel powder alloy.

Shift lever transmission component

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - GKN
Fig. 21 Shift lever, from right to left, as moulded, sintered, hardened, and assembled with shaft. (Courtesy GKN Sinter Metals, Germany)

This extremely high volume Metal Injection Molded component was part of a passenger car’s manual transmission.

The component is shown in the various manufacturing stages: moulded, sintered, hardened, and assembled with a shaft.

The material is Fe-2% Ni. The part is case hardened after sintering.


Vanes for variable nozzle turbochargers

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - Fine_sinter
MIM turbocharger vane for automotive applications, manufactured by Fine Sinter Co., Japan

Metal Injection Molded variable nozzle turbocharger vanes are produced in very high volumes for automotive turbochargers. The parts meet strict dimensional tolerance requirements, as close as ±0.015 mm on the wing profile, which is achieved with machining.

The part shown is produced using a special tool that has a unique sliding function when opening, reducing deformation during ejection. Metal Injection Moulding production offered a 20% cost saving.

The production of Metal Injection Moulded superalloy components is now far advanced, with an ever increasing market share. Materials such as Inconel 713 are readily available as MIM feedstocks.

Metal Injection Molding, thanks to the finely dispersed powders used, delivers parts with a very homogeneous microstructure, which improves significantly on the microstructures of investment cast products.

Suggested reading
Metal Injection Moulding: Past successes and future opportunities in the automotive industry

As published in Vol. 9 No. 5, December 2015 (download PDF here)

Metal Injection Moulding has made tremendous advances over the last decade in penetrating a host of important global markets, from the aerospace and 3C industries to the automotive, medical and firearms sectors. Despite suffering from a general lack of awareness amongst automotive designers and engineers, the number of MIM automotive applications continues to rise at an impressive rate. In this report, Nick Williams, Managing Editor of PIM International, reviews the development of MIM automotive applications and the future outlook for this important end-user sector.

Next page: Applications: IT, Electronics and Telecomms

In the latest issue of PIM International…

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Extensive MIM, CIM industry and sinter-based AM industry news, plus the following exclusive deep-dive articles and reports:

  • Visottica Group: Integrated workflows and the value of Metal Injection Moulding in eyewear and beyond
  • In MIM’s post-smartphone era, where is China’s Metal Injection Moulding industry going?
  • Ceramic AM at scale: The story of how Steinbach AG scaled production to 12,000 parts a year for Da Vinci Surgical Systems
  • MIM F75 (Co-Cr-Mo) for high-volume production: The impact of sintering conditions on microstructure and properties
  • World PM2022: Research into the Binder Jetting of aluminium, Ni-free stainless steel, hardmetals and metallic glass

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