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Liten, a CEA Tech institute, is proving that powder injection molding is a technologically- and economically-efficient way to manufacture complex-shaped metal parts without machining. The institute's Poudr'Innov platform is helping manufacturers access the technique, with support at all stages up to test manufacturing runs.
Offering high throughput and reproducibility, powder injection molding (PIM) is turning out to be an excellent technique for manufacturing complex-shaped parts. Researchers at Liten's Poudr'Innov platform successfully used the process to make a model part that packed in as many challenging shapes as possible (hemispheres, meplats, corners, forks, micrometric-sized branches, and more).
The researchers came up with the specifications, and then experimented with both the blend, which consisted of the powder and polymers to shape the material during injection, and the process (debinding, sintering, etc.), which have to be adjusted for each type of part. They successfully produced 600 parts per hour without the need for machining, achieving excellent reproducibility and a reject rate under 1%—all for a unit cost of less than €0.50.
This latest advance positions Poudr'Innov to meet the needs of its industrial partners from helping them draw up initial product specifications through to sample part manufacturing and test manufacturing runs. PIM is particularly well-suited to industries that need complex parts compatible with medium- to high-volume, low-cost production for applications like medical and micromechanical devices.
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.