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

A good example of a MIM rocker arm is the roller following type arm shown in Fig. 20.

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - Rocker_arm

Fig. 20 Metal Injection Molded rocker arms produced by Schunk Sintermetalltechnik GmbH , Germany

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

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

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - GKN

Fig. 21 Shift lever in various manufacturing stages; from right to left, moulded, sintered, hardened, assembled with shaft. (Courtesy GKN Sinter Metals, Germany)

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.

 

Turbocharger vanes

Applications for MIM: The Automotive Industry - Fine_sinter

Fig. 22 MIM turbocharger vane for automotive applications, manufactured by Fine Sinter Co., Japan

Metal Injection Molded variable nozzle 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 in Fig. 22 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.

For readers wishing to get an in-depth understanding of Metal Injection Moulding in the automotive sector, the article “Metal Injection Moulding: Past successes and future opportunities in the automotive industry” is available to download free of charge in the December 2015 issue of PIM International.

Next page: Applications: IT, Electronics and Telecomms

 

 

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  • WORLDPM2018 Congress: Global MIM markets show healthy growth
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