Powder metallurgy (PM) is the art of producing metal powders and the utilization of metal powders to produce shaped components. PM has been in use since 3000 B.C., but over the last hundred years, it has infiltrated daily life from electronics to automotive components and from medical tools to aerospace and defense uses. Today, the newest PM process – metal additive manufacturing (AM), also known as metal 3D printing – is gaining popularity.

This metal-forming technology is used because of unique shape capabilities and a host of properties that provide users with creative solutions. These capabilities include:

  • Material efficient processes with low process waste
  • The ability to use alloys, materials and geometries not feasible with other metal-forming processes
  • Close tolerance capability
  • Highly repeatable processes
  • Excellent bearing qualities
  • Exceptional wear and strength
  • True involute geometry
  • Controlled porosity
  • Oil and resin impregnation
  • Infiltration with copper
  • Soft magnetic properties
  • Permanent (hard) magnetic properties

While PM is used in a wide range of applications, the automotive market is the largest market for ferrous PM. Approximately 75% of ferrous PM is consumed by the automotive market. Based on the "2018 State of the Powder Metallurgy Industry in North America" presented at the POWDERMET2018 conference, a 2017 Ford F-150 truck was found to contain 71.5 lbs. of PM parts in a teardown project.

Common PM processes

Conventional press-and-sinter technology is typically used by the automotive industry, as well as in the manufacturing of power equipment, recreation products, agriculture & construction, hydraulics, and electronics. Conventional PM is a net-shape processing technology and yields parts requiring little or no secondary machining operations. Explore Automotive Case Studies on PickPM.com.

Metal injection molding (MIM) is typically used in medical devices, electronics, and firearms, but is expanding into aerospace and other markets as well. MIM is a net-shape process technology with good dimensional control capable of producing mechanical properties nearly equivalent to wrought materials. Explore Medical and Dental Case Studies on PickPM.com.

Hot and cold isostatic pressing (HIP/CIP) is used in the production of tool steels, refractory metals, and for stainless steel and aluminum components. Isostatic pressing is capable of producing parts of a larger size than is possible with other PM processes with a virtually unlimited capability for complex shapes and geometric features.

Metal additive manufacturing is used by the aerospace, defense, medical and dental industries, and is gaining ground in the motorsports and the oil and gas markets. Metal AM has the potential to profoundly change the production, time-to-market, and simplicity of components and assemblies.

PM is a value-added engineering process that provides a host of advantages over competing metal-forming technologies. These advantages add up to cost effectiveness, shape and material flexibility, application versatility, and part-to-part uniformity for improved product quality. Learn more about PM and its processing technologies at PickPM.com.