The winners in the 2021 Powder Metallurgy Design Excellence Awards competition, sponsored by the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), were announced during the International Conference on Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials (PowderMet2021), held in Orlando, Florida, USA, from June 20–23, 2021.
In the design competition, a total of six Grand Prizes and sixteen Awards of Distinction were presented across the manufacturing categories of conventional Powder Metallurgy (PM), Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) and metal Additive Manufacturing.
This year, the awards were dominated by winners in the MIM category, receiving a total of thirteen awards and highlighting the continuing innovation seen in this sector. The winning parts are used in a wide range of applications, from firearms to electronic devices, and showcase the versatility MIM can bring to component design.
Here, we highlight the Metal Injection Moulding winners.
Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category MIM
In the Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category for MIM components, a Grand Prize was awarded to ARC Group Worldwide for an enclosed striker used in the firing mechanism of a commercial handgun. The position of the tip to the primary body of the component is said to be critical for part functionality.
The part is made in a two-cavity mould, with strategic tool design and staging being implemented. Post-sintering, HIP and heat treatments were performed to increase mechanical properties, and the parts are finished with an E-nickel coating.
Hand Tools/Recreation Category MIM
A Grand Prize was also awarded to ARC Group Worldwide in the Hand Tools/Recreation Category for MIM components, for a quick-disconnect assembly used for a variety of small handheld devices such as binoculars, cameras, and firearms. Utilising MIM allowed for a near-net-shape moulded assembly and enabled the incorporation of smooth transitions and rounded edges, as well as the elimination of any machining marks on the visible portions of the parts.
Medical/Dental Category MIM
In the Medical/Dental Category for MIM components, a Grand Prize was given to OptiMIM for a compression frame used in Nextremity Solutions Lapidus System for holding and aligning the targeting drill guide during tarsometatarsal fusion.
The parts are produced using MIM-420 stainless steel in a single cavity open and shut mould with two slides. The first forms the rectangular opening and the second the two holes at a 60º angle on the opposite end of the frame. The parts are sized in a die with two slides so that forces can be applied in perpendicular directions to the parts.
Awards of distinction
Automotive – Transmission Category MIM
In the Automotive – Transmission Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was given to ARC Group Worldwide for a worm gear used in a transmission locking mechanism. MIM processing was selected because of the complexity of the helical gear teeth and the adjacent shaft geometry. Custom staging furniture is used for sintering the parts which require no secondary operations to be functional in the mating assembly.
In the Automotive – Transmission Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was also presented to Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd. for an oil spray piston cooler. The MIM-4605 parts are used in the engine of heavy vehicles and were previously made by machining. Holes are formed by two different slide pins at different angles in the tool, and the side core has to travel through the center pin with a delay mechanism.
Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category MIM
In the Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was given to Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd. for a frame chassis, part of a pistol assembly. The parts are made using MIM-17-4 PH in the H900 condition.
Prior to MIM the parts were machined from bar stock by the customer. The MIM parts meet 80% of the required part features with the remainder being machined by the customer, reducing the machining cycle by 70%.
In the Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was also given to Advanced Powder Products Inc. and its customer Savage Arms for a bolt handle for a hunting rifle. The part assists with loading the next round of ammunition and in removing the shell after it has been fired.
The complex curvature and intricate design presented challenges with moulding and sintering. MIM processing was able to convert a two-piece design machined from bar stock to a single piece MIM part.
Industrial Motors/Controls & Hydraulics Category MIM
An Award of Distinction was given to Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd. in the Industrial Motors/Controls & Hydraulics Category for MIM components for a casing and ground used in industrial gas sensors. Both parts require high magnetic permeability and low coercive field strength. The ground has many holes and threads, and the casing is a complex part with thin walls, sectional differences, and three threaded holes on the outer walls.
Hardware/Appliances Category MIM
In the Hardware/Appliances Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was awarded to Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd. for a knob shaft, clutch, knob shield, core plug, core body, and control sleeve actuator used in door locks. The previously machined stainless-steel parts have intricate profiles, thin walls, multiple holes, blind threads, aesthetic requirements, and sectional differences adding to the complexity of the part.
In the Hardware/Appliances Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was also presented to ARC Group Worldwide for a key blade used in an electronic security system. Sintering requires custom staging to minimise distortion of the delicate geometries critical to part functionality. The parts require two sizing steps to ensure twelve critical dimensions meet the customer specifications. Fitment to the mating part and the aesthetic appearance of the primary visual surface was essential.
Medical/Dental Category for MIM
In the Medical/Dental Category for MIM components, an Award of Distinction was given to ARC Group Worldwide for a pusher used in the ratcheting assembly for the consistent placement of high viscosity adhesives in incisions, used as an alternative to sutures or staples in surgical procedures. Strategic tool design, venting and a three-plate pin gate allow complete material fill of the complex part geometry, keeping distortion to a minimum and allowing tight profile and dimensional requirements to be maintained.
An Award of Distinction has also been awarded in the Medical/Dental Category for MIM components to Alpha Precision Group – Metal Injection Molding and its customer Elite Biomedical Solutions for an LVP door latch for an IV pump. The component has a tight tolerance on the hole position for the assembled roller. In use, the roller is latched on to a mating component that the company also makes to complete the latch/hook mechanism. The parts are made in-house from start to finish and the machining and multi-stage assembly are considered value added to the customer.
Electronics/Electrical Components category MIM
In the Electronics/Electrical Components category for MIM components an Award of Distinction was awarded to Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd. for a ceramic sensor used in an electronic device. Previously machined, the complex, mostly hollow parts have a U-shaped geometry with an open slot at the rear end and a through-hole at the front, with another hole passing horizontally through the slot.
For metal AM and PM winning parts click here: