Metal and ceramic injection moulding: A guide for designers and end-users


This article is based on ‘Designing for Metal Injection Moulding: A Guide for  Designers and End-Users’, by Professor Randall German, published in the December 2008 issue of PIM International. Professor German is Associate Dean of Engineering at the College of Engineering, San Diego State University, USA and a Consulting Editor of PIM International.


 

Presented on the following pages are some effective guidelines that end-users need to consider when looking to use the Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) route for the production of components.

As this online feature clearly demonstrates, the greater the understanding of the MIM process that a designer has, the greater the chances of successful adoption of MIM technology.

Although prepared with Metal Injection Moulding in mind, the design considerations presented are also applicable to Ceramic Injection Mouling (CIM).

 

Introduction

Assuming the reader has some prior knowledge about Metal Injection Moulding, this article deals with the design factors that improve production.

MIM & CIM: A guide for designers and end-users - mobile phone parts

Fig. 1 An example of a high production volume MIM success. These mobile phone parts weigh 2.3 g each

It is during the design phase that changes can be made to avoid later difficulties that might interrupt or delay production schedules.

With experience, a trained designer will envision the MIM process from the start, enabling higher process yields, lower costs, and faster processing.

Whole books have been written on the design aspects of Metal Injection Moulding [1], so here the effort is to outline some of the important principles.

More than anything, early involvement by a MIM vendor helps the most. Costs incurred during design have little impact on the final product price, but decisions made during design have major implications on the production costs. Vendor consultation before a design becomes fixed will save agony and cost during production [2].

 

The first questions

MIM & CIM: A guide for designers and end-users - Two MIM copper refrigerator couplings with combined external and internal features

Fig. 2 Two MIM copper refrigerator couplings with combined external and internal features

The Metal Injection Moulding process allows for complex net-shape components from a variety of compositions. Cost in Metal Injection Moulding depends on the material and several other factors, including the component mass, tooling complexity, mould cycle time, debinding and sintering times and other factors.

Because Metal Injection Moulding is similar to plastic molding, certain shapes are more attractive while other shapes prove difficult. The following page poses the some initial questions that help determine if MIM is viable.

 

Continue to next page: When is a part suitable for Metal or Ceramic Injection Moulding?

 

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:

  • Global Markets for Metal Injection Moulding: Data and insight from World PM2022 and beyond
  • HP Metal Jet: Growing momentum and new applications as Binder Jetting comes of age
  • Sintex: Exploring the full flexibility of metal powder-based processes for corrosion-resistant applications
  • Tritone’s MoldJet: The definition-defying AM technology advancing steadily toward commercialisation
  • The metal powder-based processing of titanium: MIM and AM-related highlights from the PMTi2022 conference
  • Opening the door to MIM parts: A case study on the conversion of die cast door hinges

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