The advantages of the metal injection molding (MIM) process lie in its capability to produce mechanical properties nearly equivalent to wrought materials while being a net-shape process technology with good dimensional tolerance control. MIM components offer a nearly unlimited shape and geometric-feature capability, with high production rates, using multi-cavity tooling.

MIM is used in firearms, medical and dental industries, general industrial applications, electronics, the automotive, aerospace and defense markets, and more. Firearms and the medical and dental markets are the dominant users of MIM components.

Technical Advantages

Shape Complexity

MIM offers the same design freedom as plastic injection molding. The more geometrically complex a part is, the more solid the rationale for manufacturing it via the MIM process. Parts may include cross holes, angle holes, internal threads, irregular shapes, splines, undercuts, side holes or grooves, complex contours or cantilevers.

Parts that would usually be made by assembling multiple components can be designed as a single MIM part. Some parts that could not be fabricated via any other process can be made through MIM. Complexities that would be cost prohibitive when made with multiple machining operations or by casting and then finishing can be achieved cost-effectively through MIM processing.

Production Quantity

Medium to high volumes of components ranging from 5,000 to 2,000,000 parts annually are typically needed to be able to amortize costs associated with tooling and start-up engineering. Generally, the best economic advantages are achieved at the highest quantities, due to the benefits of larger material purchases, multi-cavity tooling and dedicated production units. Components for cell phones, eyeglass hinges and orthodontic brackets are examples of components well designed for MIM.

Material Performance

MIM fabrication is ideal where near-full density, high-impact toughness, fracture toughness and fatigue and corrosion resistance are required. If non-standard material properties are required, these can be developed with new alloy systems.

MIM is appropriate for materials that are difficult to machine, materials with multi-phase microstructures or high work-hardening materials. It delivers a high-quality surface finish (32 rms or better) and cleaner feature detail than investment casting.

Component Costs

Reach out to a MIM component fabricator to discuss the many ways that MIM may be cost-effective based on your chosen materials, production quantity and shape complexity.

Find a MIM Fabricator

Visit the website to search a free directory of MIM, conventional press-and-sinter powder metallurgy, metal additive manufacturing, and isostatic pressing fabricators. Speaking with a component fabricator early in the design process can simplify the design and manufacturing process.