Material Options: How Does MIM Compare?
When you think of the metal injection molding and powder metallurgy processes, a few key characteristics come to mind. These components are usually high in mechanical strength, highly dense, and perform well in corrosive environments. Because of the nature of the MIM process specifically, MIM components are exceptionally dense across the board.
But what sets the OptiMIM process apart from the rest? Far and away, our distinguishing factor is our custom feedstock and enhanced material performance. While many of our competitors import BASF feedstock to mold components, our OptiMIM metallurgists make specialized, made-to-order feedstock with compositions tailored to each project. Since we produce our own feedstock, we have full control of all the ingredients, the recipes, and especially the control of the variables so we can guarantee the precise composition and consistency of each component.
Why does material composition matter?
Made-to-order feedstock sounds great on paper. But how does the quality difference translate to part performance?
With MIM, custom feedstock and precise powder composition contribute to an enhanced grain structure and grain boundary condition. This adds up to reliable and repeatable capabilities, optimal part density, highest ultimate strength, and best elongation of all final MIM components.
Need a refresher on the MIM process? Check out our short video below.
Since we manufacture our own feedstock, we have the freedom to specify the metal particle size distribution and develop the binder composition for each project. This makes OptiMIM’s process fully customizable to deliver the end mechanical performance and properties your application requires rather than having to settle for off-the-shelf properties of wrought metals. Our technical experts are able to manipulate these elements to deliver on different performance requirements. This, partnered with our ability to optimize furnace recipes, ensures that OptiMIM parts are more structurally sound and consistent, perform more reliably, and are less prone to embrittlement (cracking) than parts produced with BASF feedstock. Since we can guarantee the structure and exact material composition of each part, we can guarantee industry-leading yield strength and other relevant mechanical properties.
MIM Metals: A cut above the rest
OptiMIM’s precise and uniquely engineered feedstock composition, along with our proprietary grain structure, allows us to deliver both high strength as well as the highest elongation (ductility) performance in the industry. With other processes, design engineers are often forced to decide between optimizing mechanical strength or optimizing elongation—with OptiMIM you can have both.
For example, with 17-4PH stainless steel, heat treated to H-900, the OptiMIM mechanical properties yield up to 19% better ultimate and yield strength and up to 125% higher elongation than the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF Std 35) industry standards.
What are my material options for metal injection molding?
At OptiMIM, we specialize in various ferrous and non-ferrous alloys including several stainless steel grades, copper and copper alloys, and low alloy steel components which make up about 70% of our business. We also have experience processing specialty alloys like Cobalt-Chromium (F-75) and other high alloy materials. But that’s not all we do.
MIM materials can have their chemistries modified when utilized in the complex metal injection molding process. These materials are customizable and come in a wide variety, and they generally fall into four categories:
Steels, stainless steels, tool steels, iron-nickel magnetic alloys, non-magnetic alloys and specialty alloys such as Invar and Kovar make up our ferrous alloy materials. Ferrous alloys are characteristically strong because they have an iron-based composition, and are often used in medical and automotive applications.
Our tungsten alloys are characteristically high in tensile strength and are naturally resistant to corrosion. We often work with a tungsten-copper alloy for parts that require a material that is heat-resistant, ablation-resistant, and is highly thermally and electrically conductive.
Cemented carbide alloys
The MIM process is compatible with hard materials such as cemented carbides and cermets. These materials consist of hard and wear resistant carbide and a tough and ductile metal binder, thus delivering a unique combination of hardness and toughness.
Special material alloys
Specialty materials that we see a lot in the MIM process include, but are not limited to, precious metals, titanium alloys, cobalt-chromium, nickel, nickel-base super alloys, molybdenum, molybdenum-copper, and particulate composites.
Are you interested in learning more about available material options and applications for metal injection molding? Download our free webinar!