The Essential Role that Powder Metallurgy Plays in Automotive Applications

September 9, 2019

The automotive industry utilizes scores of manufacturing technologies. Right now, the feature of the day is smart technology. Systems that help drivers stay safe are currently in the limelight. Lightweight materials, including stronger aluminium alloy and carbon fibre, are also creating a buzz. Given the quick adoption rate of these advanced vehicle materials, powder metallurgy-based automotive solutions aren’t about to be left out, not when they have so much to offer.

Net-Shape Production Benefits

Cars are roaring along highways all over the globe. Mass-produced by the million, manufacturing science has found all sorts of creative ways to cut vehicle manufacturing costs without incurring a subsequent quality sacrifice. Using different types of powdered metal, affordable automotive parts are thus bulk-produced. The net-shape components don’t even require a machine shop or castings, not when a compaction die and sintering station can produce thousands of identical parts per day. All pressed into shape by the same die, the initial PM produced part is as reliable as the following 999 out of a thousand subsequent parts. Right from the get-go, the automotive sector uses powder metallurgy to manufacture thousands of reliably working vehicle parts per day. Costs drop, quality assurance margins widen, and the industry hums along very nicely indeed.

Automotive Applications Challenge Material Engineers

That’s true enough, cars are noisy and parts-disruptive metal wrappers. Vibrational and thermal energies are kicked out of engine compartments while caustic chemical compounds flow into and out of the same noisy enclosure. Remember, tens of thousands of controlled explosions are combusting inside an engine, then the back-pressure of this power plant pushes waste products out through a metal pipe below the vehicle. In response to this challenge, powder metallurgy produced automotive parts aren’t only incredibly detailed and reliable, they’re also loaded with a range of purpose-derived attributes. Self-lubricate bearings are in the mix, of course, and then there are sintered brake pads. Expected to stop fast-moving cars, those densely manufactured, abrasion-resistant car components still somehow last for ages.

Machine shop parts have gone the way of the dinosaur, at least that’s the case in the automotive sector. Instead of drilling benches and lathes, the components are manufactured in PM equipment lines, where exact alloy mixes and porosity coefficients can be precisely managed. As a result of net-shape production technology, all imaginable vehicle parts bend to the will of a powder metal manufacturing process. For brake discs, sintered powders blend abrasion-resistant metal particles. In exhaust systems, catalysing blocks oxidize more efficiently because they’re PM manufactured, not cast. Camshafts, power transmission components, powder-pressed carbon metal starter brushes and more, there’s not an automotive application that’s not touched in some way by a performance-enhancing powder metal component.

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