The winners of the 2018 Powder Metallurgy Design Excellence Awards competition, sponsored by the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), were announced during POWDERMET2018, the International Conference on Powder Metallurgy and Particulate Materials, San Antonio, Texas, USA, June 17-20, 2018.
The winners, stated the MPIF, demonstrate outstanding examples of PM’s diversity as a manufacturing technology. These component fabricators have used PM’s flexibility to push forward new concepts and process controls, and to demonstrate the capabilities offered by PM in the service of component design. Designers continue to choose PM for critical applications such as auto engines and transmissions, medical devices, consumer products, military applications and more.
Seven Grand Prizes and twelve Awards of Distinction were given in the 2018 competition.
Automotive-Transmission: GKN Powder Metallurgy
The Grand Prize in the Automotive-Transmission Category was awarded to GKN Powder Metallurgy for an aluminium PM planetary reaction carrier which it produced for General Motors. The carrier goes into the all-new GM 9T50 nine-speed transmission, offered in such vehicles as the Chevrolet Malibu and the Equinox crossover.
Made from a unique metalmatrix composite (MMC) aluminium alloy system and mated to an overdrive carrier, this first-of-its-kind two-piece design required extremely tight tolerances.
Automotive-Engine: GKN Powder Metallurgy
The Grand Prize in the Automotive-Engine Category also went to GKN Powder Metallurgy for a copper steel main bearing cap made for FCA US LLC. The part is used in the 2.0 L all- aluminium turbocharged four-cylinder FCA engine launched in the Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Although PM main bearing caps have dominated engine design for more than two decades, the design of this part is said to break new ground. Requirements for engine weight reduction drove the designers to an ‘upside down’ sculpted version. This novel design delivers a part that is 23% lighter than previous versions and offers 10% better fatigue strength.
Aerospace/Military/Firearms: Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd.
The Grand Prize in the Aerospace/Military/Firearms Category was won by Indo-MIM Pvt. Ltd., India, for three MIM stainless steel parts: a rear insert, a slide stop and a trigger lever.
Together, the three parts form an assembly that goes into the P10 9 mm pistol. All three parts have extremely complex geometries that would be extremely difficult to achieve by machining.
Hand Tools/Recreation: FMS Corporation
The Grand Prize in the Hand Tools/Recreation Category was presented to FMS Corporation Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, for three sinter-hardened steel parts made for Graco, Inc.: an eccentric gear, a combination gear and a connecting rod that incorporates a bronze bearing. The parts comprise an assembly that drives a piston pump within a paint sprayer.
The complex eccentric gear, which is compacted using cored holes on one side to balance the moment of inertia around the centre shaft, features AGMA class 6 gear quality. The combination gear is complex, combining a helical gear and a spur gear. The bronze bearing is compacted, sintered and sized in place inside the connecting rod, then oil impregnated. The combination gear and connecting rod are manufactured completely net-shape.
Hardware/Appliance: AMT Pte, Ltd
The Grand Prize in the Hardware/Appliance Category went to AMT Pte, Ltd, Singapore, for a MIM stainless steel EPR flow block single sensor. The component, part of the specimen inlet module of gas chromatography analytical equipment, includes two dedicated internal channels to manage gas in and out of the five ports without permitting leakages.
Forming these 90-degree internal channels required the use of a hydraulic core-pull slider system. By integrating multiple, formerly cast- and-machined parts into one MIM component, the complex geometry proved challenging for tool design as well as for the MIM process. The sensor is processed close to net-shape, with the tapping of threads in the pre-formed holes being the only secondary operation performed.
Medical/Dental: ARC Group Worldwide
The Grand Prize in the Medical/Dental Category was awarded to ARC Group Worldwide for a MIM 17-4 PH size 5 cutting block made for Smith & Nephew. The block goes into the recently launched Visionaire FastPak Single Use Instruments used in knee-replacement surgery. The extreme complexity created by the overall size of the component, which weighs in at nearly 450 g (1 lb), combined with non-uniform wall thicknesses and the need for stress mitigation for finished machining operations, makes this a highly challenging part to process via MIM. The MIM component is estimated to save 60% in cost over traditional manufacturing methods.
Electronic/Electrical: ARC Group Worldwide
The Grand Prize in the Electronic/Electrical Category went to ARC Group Worldwide for a MIM stainless steel shaft grounding guide section made for Cutsforth, Inc. The guide section is part of the customer’s Shaft Grounding System used in brush excitation maintenance on turbine generators in the nuclear, gas, coal, wind and hydro industries.
Although the part design has many undercuts due to the nature of the sliding track features, its design still allows for a two-plate mould without any slides. By controlling features such as gate location, fill time, hold pressure and barrel temperature, the MIM process was optimised to produce aesthetically pleasing near net-shape components.