Creating Metal Parts with Powder MetallurgySeptember 11, 2020
A lot of manufacturers and metal fabricators are utilising the capabilities of different fabrication processes and methods in creating metal parts and components. Most of these processes, however, are part and under the category of powder metallurgy that has gained popularity over the years due to its associated capabilities, benefits, and applications.
Overview of Powder Metallurgy
Powder metallurgy is a metal-forming process that heats compacted elemental or alloy powders below their melting points to create different metal materials or components. The need to use metal removal processes is reduced or even eradicated with powder metallurgy, which significantly reduces any yield loss throughout the manufacturing process and cuts down overall costs.
The powder metallurgy process is done by compacting a mixture of metal powders first before subjecting it under sintering or heating. Metal powders that are used for powder metallurgy would be typically mixed through atomisation, mechanical alloying, electrolytic techniques, chemical reduction, and pulverisation. The metal powder mixture is then mixed with a lubricant that reduces friction from the pressing dies. The compacting process of metal powder can be done through moulding, forging, or pressing.
Sintering takes place whenever the compacted metal powders are melted down in a furnace below their melting points. The heated metal powders would then gain the shape of an atmosphere-controlled furnace that initiates the metallurgical bonding of the powders’ particles. The shape of the parts is also retained during this specific process.
Processing Different Metal Materials
The whole powder metallurgy process is being utilised by a lot of industries today due to its advantages. It can easily produce parts at the intended final dimensions and form factor. It can also reduce significant scrap losses as it maximises all the starting raw materials and processes them all in the finished product.
The strength, wear resistance, and long-term performance reliability of products made from this process are likewise improved due to the powder metallurgy’s heat-treatment process. Metal products and components out of powder metallurgy are also equipped with good surface finish and controlled porosity.
Powder metallurgy can be advantageous to industries due to its ability to process common metal materials. The high conductive and lightweight properties of aluminium make it possible for this material to be subjected under the metal-forming process. Copper can also be manufactured by powder metallurgy due to its high electrical and thermal conductivity. Other metal materials that can be processed by powder metallurgy include iron, steel, bronze, tungsten, zirconia, and many more.
Applications of Powder Metallurgy
Different industries maximise the capabilities of powder metallurgy in producing high-quality metal parts and components. Some of these industries include building & construction, computer, electronics, hardware, jewellery making, and automotive & aerospace.
Metal products and components that are produced by powder metallurgy include automotive gears, tractor transmissions, heavy-duty oil pumps, turbine discs, medical tools and equipment, magnetic assemblies, filtration systems, structural parts, porous oil-impregnated bearings, electrical contacts, and sharp gemstone grinding blades.
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