For applications that require higher density levels, the Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) of MIM parts, particularly for the medical sector, has become a popular and effective post-processing solution. In MIM medical applications, fine sub-surface porosity exposed during machining and finishing operations is regarded as a harbour for bacteria and the elimination of the risk of infection in the operating theatre has been a driving force large enough to justify the additional cost of HIP, even when the elimination of porosity is not required to meet mechanical property specifications.
“Another misconception is that MIM creates parts that have deep voids or cracks in them. With the advancement of the technology, these types of defects can be processed out during the validation phase of part development. Once the processing parameters are locked in and monitored, the risk of these defects can be significantly reduced or eliminated,” stated Houck.
Commenting on the awareness of MIM in the medical sector and trends that are driving the adoption of the technology, Krishna Chivukula Jr., CEO of Indo-US MIM Tec Pvt. Ltd., stated, “Internationally, I believe that awareness is excellent. However, the medical device industry is inherently conservative and resists change for a variety of reasons. However, attendant cost pressures associated with aging populations are forcing them to evaluate MIM more aggressively. That said, I believe MIM’s adoption for medical devices is not primarily driven by awareness but by the domestic environment in which device companies operate in this environment is different in every country.”
The number of Metal Powder Industry Federation (MPIF) award winning MIM medical components over the last decade reflect the importance of the technology to the medical sector as well as the innovations and cost-savings it enables. A selection of these parts can be seen in Figs. 3-6, 8 and 17.
Commenting on US market, Indo-MIM’s Chivukula stated, “In the USA the move to single-use devices to reduce liability is forcing components to MIM since small complex parts can be disposed of after one or several uses. Design complexity is also forcing more complexity onto less component real estate, which increases the cost of machining and reduces the viability of disposing of the component when the industry is under cost pressure…
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