During the last few years, the Defense sector has confirmed itself as the most important market for metal injection molding (MIM), exceeding by far 36% of the total sales of the technology, with an upward trend, and doubling the numbers of important sectors such as Automotive or Tooling.
This is not due to any kind of commercial interest or strategy, but neither is it by chance.
Firearms, whether hunting rifles, automatic rifles, muzzle-loading shotguns, pistols or revolvers, are made of small, high-precision steel parts that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional, with complex three-dimensional shapes, tight dimensional tolerances, fine details, good workmanship, demanding mechanical requirements and high power consumption.
In other words: triggers, safeties, sights, hammers, cams, etc., are ideal parts for MIM technology.
Although MIM is a recommended process for parts under 100 grams and especially competitive below 30 grams, we have also developed slides over 240 grams. This weight increase decreases the accuracy of dimensional tolerances and directly influences the raw material cost, but is profitable for our customers due to the huge reduction of the machining process required to finish these parts.
Our experience with this type of components is enormous and we work with all major brands worldwide, with whom we often develop MIM projects for parts that were formerly manufactured using other technologies, achieving great improvements:
- Cost reduction versus MACHINING
- Higher mechanical strength compared to traditional SYNTERIZING
- Better finish vs. INVESTMENT CASTING + MACHINING
|PRESSURE DIE CASTING||MACHINING||STAMPING||FORGING||M.I.M.|
|STRENGHT||LOW||VERY HIGH||MEDIUM||VERY HIGH||HIGH||VERY HIGH||HIGH|
|ROUGHNESS||MEDIUM||LOW||HIGH||VERY LOW||VERY LOW||VERY HIGH||VERY LOW|
|WEIGHT||MEDIUM LOW||MEDIUM 1gr./30kg:||MEDIUM||MEDIUM||LOW||MEDIUM HIGH||LOW|
|LOTS||LARGE||SMALL TO LARGE||LARGE||MEDIUM||VERY LARGE||SMALL TO LARGE||LARGE TO VERY LARGE|
|DIE COST||VERY HIGH||MEDIUM||HIGH||—||—||—||HIGH|
|TOLERANCES||VERY GOOD||GOOD||MEDIUM||VERY GOOD||MEDIUM||POOR||VERY GOOD|
In addition, with the same mold we have the possibility to manufacture different materials with the same shrinkage factors. We are talking about a very customized type of product and it is common for our customers to manufacture different versions of the same reference, from core-hardened carbon steels such as 42CrMo4 or surface hardened such as 8620, to which different surface treatments can be applied, to precipitation-hardened stainless steels such as 17.4PH.
Investment Casting in the Defense Sector
As far as Investment Casting is concerned, Defense is consolidating its position as our second sector after Automotive, which despite the crisis remains unbeatable.
Thanks to our extensive experience, with almost 7,000 references developed since 1964, at ECRIMESA we manufacture Investment Casting parts as important as shotgun scales or pistol frames.
The requirements for this type of parts are threefold, as they are components
- critical safety,
- aesthetically pleasing, and
- fully functional.
The configuration of the casting attacks, the design of the assemblies and the control of the casting parameters and heat treatments are of vital importance to guarantee the absence of any type of defects, both external and internal, that could appear after machining.
To ensure dimensional tolerances, they require complex 100% calibration processes, carried out by qualified personnel with extensive experience, using tools specifically designed for each reference and exhaustive quality controls.
The surface finish is far superior to other technologies previously used such as FORGE, also reducing the investment in tooling and the cost of machining required to finish the parts.
As with MIM, we offer different materials from the same mold, whether carbon steels such as 42CrMo4 or stainless steels such as 420. In the case of Investment Casting, we also have the possibility of manufacturing A-356 aluminum alloys, with mechanical properties far superior to traditional die-cast aluminum.
In addition to the frameworks, other very common applications of our Investment Casting parts for the sector are the “gas-blocks” of automatic weapons, mortar components or parts for military vehicles such as battle tanks.
Ecrimesa has, in addition to its extensive experience in this sector, the human and material resources necessary to provide a complete service to our customers in this sector such as:
- Heat treatment plant with annealing furnaces with carbon control and transfers for hardening and tempering according to ICQ-9.
- Approved equipment and personnel for non-destructive testing (Rx-Magnetic Particles and Liquid Penetrant Testing).
- Machining plant for non-core parts
- Design office and mold shop for checking fixtures and press design.
We believe that both MIM and Investment Casting play essential roles in the development of elementary parts in the Defense Sector, and we foresee an increase in the use of these technologies for this sector.
In relation to this topic, we recommend that you review a Blog previously published by us, Metal Injection Molding Outlook for 2022 in Europe, where the Defense Sector stands out as one of the sectors with the greatest potential for development.
To learn more about our experience in this sector, please visit our section on the Defense Sector: