Metal injection molding (MIM) is a hybrid metal fabrication process. MIM allows for easy shaping of products like plastic injection molding. It also allows for the materials flexibility of conventional powder metallurgy. MIM is ideal for the mass production of small, intricate components.
What is Metal Injection Molding?
So what is MIM? Metal injection molding (MIM) is a core metalworking process that allows manufacturers to create custom metal parts in complex shapes. MIM enables one to create any kind of metal body.
It is primarily employed in the making of small, complex, tailored metal parts that are not readily available in the market and must be custom made. These parts generally weigh less than 100 grams.
The MIM process allows for considerably more design freedom than other metal fabrication processes like die casting. You can choose from almost any combination of metal powder and plastic binders to produce even the most complex shapes.
Metal Injection Molding Process
The injection molding process starts by taking fine powder metallurgy and mixing it with a binder material. The product of mixing metal powders with a binder is called “feedstock.”
In addition to producing a feedstock, a mold is also created for your final product. The feedstock is then injected into the mold where it is allowed to set and solidify.
Once the injected metal has set, the binder removal procedure starts. This process varies depending on the type of binder initially employed.
Typically, there are multiple steps in the debinding process. Each part usually goes through more than one cycle to ensure maximum removal of the binding material before sintering.
After debinding is finished, the part is semi-porous. This allows the secondary binder to more easily escape during the sintering cycle. Debinding is a critical step as without it the part would not be as sturdy.
Finally, the product must undergo a sintering process, which ensures that all the parts produced have the correct wall thickness, geometry, material composition, and physical properties. Using this process, a high volume of products can easily be made.
The Advantages of MIM For Custom Metal Fabrication
Metal injection molding offers a number of advantages over other metal fabrication methods.
First, MIM allows product designers to create custom parts that they may otherwise be unable to find on the market. Whether it’s a small custom screw or fastener, a specialized spring, or high-strength bolts, metal injection molding allows for a considerable amount of freedom in the design process.
Metal injection molding also enables one to create parts with complex geometries and metal compositions. A product designer can produce intricate shapes with confidence and select any combination of metals they wish to use, ranging from iron to cobalt alloys to stainless steel.
Words and numbers can also be molded or imprinted into the shape, which is often unachievable through conventional machining. Thin walls are also easier to achieve through metal injection molding. They are more robust than those made with more traditional machinery.
Green Metal Fabrication
MIM is also one of the greenest metal fabrication methods. Since the production method is so efficient, it results in a much smaller amount of waste. Because MIM technology utilizes molds and liquid metals, you generally will lose very little metal as waste product.
This can also make the process considerably more cost-effective than other metal fabrication processes. In addition, since the molding process takes place using a single machine, it does not require multiple time-consuming set-up operations.
High Volume Production & Quality Control
Another advantage of this process is the high volume of products that can be made using just one mold. The MIM process is known for its repeatability and convenience. Once a mold is produced, products can be produced very quickly and with an almost non-existent margin of error.
Also, most products that are made using metal injection molding are near fully dense thanks to the liquid solution that they were fashioned from. This high-density guarantees that the final product will be strong, durable, and robust.
Most of these products also show excellent resistance to corrosion. They are tough enough to be open to further experiences, like heat treating, machining, and plating.
The Federal Group’s Metal Injection Molding Capabilities
Metal injection molding is an excellent way to produce complex shapes and components with maximum efficiency and scalability. If you’re interested in utilizing metal injection molding to produce a new product or component, we’d be happy to help you navigate the process.
The Federal Group USA can help you design your mold, select the appropriate materials, and guide you through each step of the MIM process. We’ve helped clients in a wide array of industries ranging from automotive to construction. No matter your project’s requirements, our staff are here to turn your concepts into reality.
If you’d like to request a free, no-obligation quote or speak with one of our experienced sales team members, send us an email or give us a call at (800)759-2658.