In Ecrimesa we have carried out a Case Study, where we analyze the use of BASF’s Catamold® for the manufacture of automotive parts, through Metal Injection Molding. In the document we explain the advantages of this component and offer practical examples of use.
Metal Injection Molding
Metal Injection Molding (MIM) is a powder metallurgical manufacturing technique that injects binder and metal powder into a mold or cavity.
MIM technology is suitable for manufacturing complex geometry, small to medium size parts in a wide range of materials (stainless steels, low alloy steels, soft magnetic, tool steel and ceramics). It combines the technique and versatility of plastic injection molding with the sintering technique to produce high-density parts with very tight geometrical tolerances.
MIM in the automotive industry
To meet the specific needs of the automotive industry, BASF’s Catamold® has proven to be an ideal component. Catamold® is ready-to-use granules for injection molding. It consists of metallic or ceramic powder and a tailor-made binding agent.
In the initial stages we consider:
To start with the MIM Process from injection molding
This is a chart with a range of parameters for a specific manufacturing process that produces a defined result.
QC (quality control)
Quality inspection is an activity that consists of checking, measuring or testing one or more characteristics of the product or service and comparing the results with specific requirements to confirm compliance. This task is performed by qualified personnel.
The feedstock is injected into a mold with the desired part shape. The main injection parameters are pressure, flow rate and temperatures (of the injection screw and mold). The injection parameters must be adapted to the part geometry. As manufacturers, in order to obtain parts without internal defects, the know-how of the respective industry is essential.
The part obtained is known as a “green part“.
This is the process in which the binder that has been used for injecting is removed, and can be carried out by various methods:
- 100% thermal
- With solvents, or
- by catalytic reaction.
The resulting piece is called a “brown piece“.
This is the process of interdiffusion bonding of the metal particles together by the action of temperature and gases (depending on the alloy it will be H2 or N2) and in which the target density is reached (95-98% compared to 82% of traditional sintering).
It can be carried out in batch furnaces (suitable for small batches or special materials) or in continuous furnaces (suitable for large production batches).
At Ecrimesa Group we have both equipments with 3 continuous lines and 2 batch furnaces. The positioning of the parts during the debanding and sintering process can affect the dimensional results obtained, so the definition and industrialization phase is another key to obtain a robust and reliable process.
It consists of different heat treatments, polishing and machining, to obtain the final part.
Examples of the use of MIM in the automotive industry
At Ecrimesa we have manufactured different parts for the automotive sector using Catamold® by BASF. The following is an example of a specific part for a motorcycle component, specifically the engine piston.
The Catamold® material used for the production of this part is Catamold FN08. In addition, there are other key aspects of the production process of this part to consider:
- Hardness: 32-35 HRC.
- Heat treatment: carried out by our company
- Machining: carried out by our company
- In the past: this piece was produced through the lost wax casting mechanism.
In the Case Study that can be downloaded below, we show more examples of manufacturing different parts for the automotive sector, as well as a comparison of the MIM Process with other technologies. The use of Catamold® by BASF together with Ecrimesa Group’s extensive experience in MIM technology enables the most efficient manufacturing of metal parts.