Tooling Do’s and Don’ts in Powder Metallurgy Design Considerations

December 13, 2019

Considering the detail-oriented nature of this process, how likely is it that such a premium quality fabrication technique could be maintained if the Powder Metallurgy tools used here didn’t have equally outstanding build qualities? Like a supercomputer that was inputting rubbish and kicking out more rubbish, second-rate PM tools could only ever manufacture second-rate sintered products. Not to worry, this tooling Do’s and Don’ts primer will keep the process on the right track.

Do Recognize the Dynamic Nature of PM Manufacturing

The building blocks of the process aren’t hard to understand. Atomized metal particles are compacted in special tooling dies, and then the newly formed material is sintered until those grains coalesce. But there are dynamic processing variables to weigh, too. Net shape production values will affect a product’s final form. These and other transitory parts-forming circumstances must be continually monitored and adjusted.

Do Employ Premium Tools to Press Finely Detailed Parts

By incorporating superior tool templates, thin-walled components take shape without defects. Edges are sharply defined, curves contour and never leave ugly material voids, and further machining operations become wholly unnecessary. Besides finer details on high-fidelity negative mouldings, the tools also utilize tougher, harder materials. Consequently, the compaction dies exhibit longer functional lifespans.

Don’t Ignore Process Compaction Correlations

High-tensile steel or not, tool materials have limits. If the fill rate applied to an intricately shaped die is too high, a high-tonnage press will keep right on working, but the tools holding the “fill” will experience damage. A 2-to-1 fill ratio is generally used to fully charge the tool cavities. For a first-run project, a run that uses a number of additives, a few prototypes should be made to fine-tune the fill ratio.

Don’t Work Without a Plan

This tip covers a host of sins. If thin-walled products are ordered, remember that an overly thin tool could break because of an issue with tool material brittleness. Finally, don’t forget about the other services that can be performed on PM tools. Heat treatment work or special coatings, superior alloys versus electrochemically deposited platings, there are a vast number of ways to protect the tools used in the Powder Metallurgy sector from pressing fatigue.

In conclusion, PM tools are sandwiched between a pair of immense energy propagators. A high-tonnage press applies compaction force. Inside the tools, the coalescing powder becomes an immovable force. Something has to “give” when these forces clash. To achieve full system synergy, the tool materials can’t be brittle, nor can they lack detail. Compaction ratios are another issue, as are the possible additional machining operations that add tapers or undercuts. Essentially, PM processing engineers use a big-picture perspective to navigate the many Do’s and Don’ts that would otherwise cripple this powdered metal compacting procedure.

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