The demand for small, precision, high volume components has allowed MIM to thrive in the electronics sector
The electronics industry is a major user of Metal Injection Molded parts, accounting for more than 50% of parts sales in Asia. Connectors of complex geometries are now staple MIM products and the miniaturisation of electronic devices calls for ever smaller parts with better performance at lower cost. This is where Metal Injection Moulding can put forward its strengths.
Lightning connector for Apple devices
Metal Injection Molding is used to produce Apple’s Lightning connector, a component that has been produced in the tens of millions per week at peak production. Such small, complex high volume components can be produced in multi-cavity molds to net-shape.
Few other technologies can compete with Metal Injection Molding’s combination of high volume capability and tight tolerances.
This is just one of many MIM applications that can be found in smartphones and mobile devices produced by a wide range of OEMs.
These thin-wall (<1 mm or 0.04 in.) intricate fibre optic transceiver housings are made from 17-4 PH stainless steel.
The parts are used in a parallel optical module for ultra-high-speed transceivers in networking and telecom equipment.
In addition to the very thin walls, the MIM housing has four thin legs supporting two parallel strips.
Cold plates and heatsinks
This Metal Injection Molded copper coldplate leverages on the full benefits of the MIM process. It has shape complexity capability that gives the designer the maximum flexibility in design concept such as the intricate oval shaped pin geometry, which provides optimum thermal performance.
The sheer number of small pins, at 279, to be packed within a small confined space, maximises the overall surface area and hence optimises the thermal efficiency.
In this aspect, it provides the thermal performance of the MIM coldplate with an added competitive edge when compared with other manufacturing processes.
Mobile phone parts
Although from a long discontinued mobile phone, this phone flip slider and hinge barrel are two MIM parts which made up a dual-hinge opening mechanism. This mechanism allows a clamshell style phone cover to slide up and down and flip open in a single movement.
The parts are made from high strength 17-4 PH stainless steel and the MIM process allowed very complex thin walls, overhanging structures and a 3D design (Fig. 25). The parts also demonstrate the high quality polished finish that can be achieved.
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