Winning parts in the Metal Powder Industry Federation (MPIF) 2014 Powder Metallurgy Design Excellence Awards competition were announced at the PM2014 World Congress, Orlando, USA, May 18-22.
These award winning parts, stated the MPIF, prove time and again that Powder Metallurgy (PM) products, whether manufactured by conventional press and sinter PM or via Metal Injection Molding (MIM), are a major competitor in the service of end-users who operate in demanding and highly competitive environments.
By giving designers the freedom to conceive shapes that are impractical to achieve in traditional metal-cutting processes PM promotes new ways of thinking, empowering designers to envision new product features to achieve competitive advantages. The PM industry continues to push the boundaries of complexity, tolerances, and mechanical properties past their already impressive scope, expanding into new applications and extending opportunities within existing applications.
Grand Prize Awards
Indo-US MIM Tec Pvt. Ltd., Bangalore, India, won the Grand Prize in the Automotive – Engine Category for four MIM parts: blank discharge check, stop discharge check valve, valve discharge check, and CRV spring seat. These parts go into a device that controls fuel flow in Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) pumps made for Stanadyne Corporation.
Three of the parts are made of 440C stainless steel, while the fourth is made of 17-4 PH. The extremely complex geometry of the blank discharge check, with the intercrossing of holes, required tooling with six side cores, three of which move at different timings.
This design was judged by the manufacturer to be perhaps the most complex high-volume part ever made by MIM. The customer achieved cost savings of close to 35%, while the pump performance was improved by modifying the hole geometry to enhance flow dynamics, with the result being a 10%- 20% fuel economy boost.
Keystone Powdered Metal Co., St. Marys, Pennsylvania, USA, was awarded a Grand Prize in the Automotive – Transmission Category for a planetary carrier assembly made for its customer Ford Motor Company.
The 32 part carrier assembly is used in the HF35 hybrid transmission that goes into Lincoln MKZ, Ford C-Max, and Ford Fusion hybrid vehicles. The spider and carrier plate are compacted and then sinterbrazed together before being joined to the shaft. The helical pinion gears are sinter forged to full density using tools that must also rotate and exactly match the gears’ 24.5 degree angle; it is the first time such a gear has been used in an automotive transmission application.
It is estimated the customer achieved cost savings on the order of 25% by going this route. In over two years of production of this carrier, with about a quarter of a million assemblies shipped, there have been no field returns.
Capstan, Wrentham, Massachusetts, USA, received the Grand Prize in the Lawn & Garden/Off-Highway Category for copper-steel parts made for General Transmission. The parts make up a disengagement mechanism of an intuitive differential snow-blower system that allows the user to pivot the unit in place by disengaging one of the wheels.
These two parts combine for 11 pressing levels, requiring precisely timed tool motions at ejection, along with sophisticated robotics, for crack-free removal from the lower punches.
Despite their tremendous shape complexity, these parts are formed to net shape, and specially developed sintering fixtures ensure that flatness and level-to-level relationships are maintained. As a new technology in this product category, this intuitive differential is expected to set the standard for tight-turning requirements for machines of this type.
FloMet LLC, an ARCMIM Company, DeLand, Florida, USA, won the Grand Prize in the Medical/Dental Category for two 5 mm tines – one fixed, one moving – that go into a thermal tissue fusion and dissection system made by its customer ConMed.
The system uses direct thermal energy and pressure to effectively seal, transect, dissect, and coagulate tissue. Fabricated via MIM from 17-4 PH stainless steel, the tines overcame many molding and processing challenges, including the fixed tine’s length and thin-rib requirements, as well as the need for straightness over its entire length for full functionality with mating components.
Highly innovative tooling and advanced thermal processing techniques were employed to produce two components in a final as-assembled condition with only minimal secondary operations being needed. The fabricator’s expertise in maximizing MIM’s advantages was persuasive in having the customer redesign the product to make MIM the preferred manufacturing method.
A three-piece assembly made by FloMet LLC for Shure Incorporated won the Grand Prize in the Electronic/Electrical Components Category. The parts, a nozzle interface, outer nozzle, and metal collar, go into high-end sound-isolating earphones that enable user-customisable frequency responses.
Made via MIM from 316L stainless steel, the components achieved the objective of producing final net-shape parts that not only met the cost demands of the highly competitive professional-audio market but maintained a cosmetically perfect surface so critical in a consumer product with a clear exterior.
MIM was the ideal choice, as alternative fabrication methods, such as die casting or machining, could not have provided the precision needed at a reasonable cost, nor been able to provide the required material performance.