Smartphones require a variety of intricate metal components with tight tolerances, including casings and connectors. MIM provides these parts in materials such as stainless steel and specialty alloys to ensure high-quality performance.
MIM can also reduce production time and costs by eliminating the need for precision machining. Instead, dimensional inspections with coordinate measuring machines and optical comparators can verify that MIM parts meet their intended tolerances.
Unlike traditional powder metallurgy and casting, MIM does not limit itself in terms of product shape. It can create complex shapes and internal threads, blind holes, cross-through holes, knurling, concave tables, rib plates, and more. It is also possible to perform any post-manufacturing operation that can be done on forged or cast metal parts, including sintering, annealing, cold rolling, soldering, hardening and tempering, polishing and grinding.
In the 3C industry, smart wearable devices, micro gears and hardware are examples of MIM parts. MIM parts are also used in the automotive industry, especially for the hood ornaments, mirror covers and brake light assemblies. MIM parts are also used in the military industry for nozzles, connectors and ammunition.
Using sensors to collect data on equipment in manufacturing plants, for example, helps with predictive maintenance and reduces downtime and repair costs. Gemalto’s MIM service solutions enable users to track critical parameters of their MIM parts, and get alerts for unexpected writes, preventing unnecessary data writes that can degrade battery life.
When designing a metal part for MIM, engineers need to account for the size and shape of the mold they’re using. The mold’s accuracy can make or break a finished product, so precision and care is required in order to produce accurate parts.
The compounding, debinding, sintering and heat treatment stages of MIM production can create complex parts that would be difficult or impossible to make through other metalworking methods, such as machining and casting. These processes can be very time consuming and require many expensive tools and setups.
MIM parts can be made from a variety of alloys, including low and high-strength steels as well as titanium and iron-based metals. These materials can be hardened to achieve superior mechanical properties.
MIM parts can be used in a wide range of industries, such as automotive, electronics, medical, tooling and firearms. These parts often require tight tolerances and a wide range of shapes. They also need to be made from strong, durable materials, such as Nitinol, which can be shaped into a part for medical implants or other uses and has shape memory properties.
The Internet of Things brings internet connectivity and data processing to physical objects. These “things” can be anything from a mobile phone to a factory robot or even a street light. The granular data that IoT devices beam to back-end systems can help companies optimize production, streamline distribution and reduce manual processes.
MIM parts for smart devices can meet demanding dimensional and material requirements. The MIM process also offers a level of consistency that is unmatched by traditional powder metallurgy, machining or casting.
For example, MIM parts in a smartphone or tablet have cosmetic appeal but can also be strong enough to protect the fragile electronics. MIM handles and connector joints are built with strong stainless steel that meets aerospace and automotive industry standards. MIM can also support life science applications with its ability to produce complex components that are biocompatible and have precise tolerances for key dimensions. Its scalability allows OEMs to meet high demand while reaping long-term cost savings and increased efficiency.
IoT devices are becoming more widely used in commercial buildings to track energy usage, helping companies save money by reducing their building’s carbon footprint. Additionally, IoT in fleet management allows companies to track vehicle performance and prevent breakdowns. This technology can also help businesses shift to product-as-a-service business models in which customers pay for the use of a device rather than purchasing it outright.
With sensor technologies and 5G on the horizon, many people will soon become heavily reliant on smart devices that control everything from appliances to automobiles to the way they live. However, it will be important for manufacturers to ensure their smart products can be trusted to transmit data accurately and securely.
Choosing MIM early in the R&D process frees engineers from some of the limitations inherent with other manufacturing methods. As a result, life science OEMs can balance fast, efficient product development with long-term supply sustainability and cost savings. This strategy also helps them get the best value out of their IoT investments.