The winning entries in the Metal Powder Industry Federation's 2004 design competition were a diverse lot that included components used in automobiles and light trucks, industrial pumps, power tools, and biomedical products. Made by conventional press and sinter technology, warm compaction, and metal injection molding, this year's winners replaced parts once made by die casting, investment casting, machining, and forging. Here's a closer look at some of the grand prize winners. For more info on the competition and additional winning parts, visit www.mpif.org.
Ferrous components Innovative tooling helped ASCO Sintering Company and Deltran Inc. produce this four-part gear assembly, which earned the ferrous grand prize. Consisting of an armature, rotor blank, bearing, and pinion gear, the assembly operates in a motor drive for automatic sliding minivan doors and tailgates. Made from phosphorous iron, the parts have a density of 7.0 g/cm³, an ultimate tensile strength of 45,000 psi, and a yield strength of 32,000 psi. The parts are made to a net shape, with the exception of a turning operation on the rotor hub.
Stainless steel Webster-Hoff Corp. took top honors in the stainless steel category for a complex pump latch it makes for Phillips Plastics. This 316-stainless-steel latch is used at the end of a door handle for a medical infusion pump. The part is produced to a density of 6.7 g/cm³ and has an ultimate tensile strength of 65,000 psi, a yield strength of 42,000 psi, and an elongation of 11.5 percent. This powder metal latch replaces a die cast handle that was fitted to a stainless steel latch with dowel pins and screws. Annual cost savings from the switch come to more than $100,000.
Metal injection molding Parmatech Corporation and its customer, SurgRx Inc., won the injection-molding prize for a high compression jaw used in laparoscopic vessel fusion procedures. The jaw design consists of top and bottom jaw halves as well as an anchor component and I-beam-shaped blade. All of these parts feature thin-walls and complex geometries, making them tough to manufacture by any other technology. Made from 17-4PH metal powder, all four parts have as-sintered densities greater than 7.6 g/cm³. And every bit of that density is important given the high compression forces the components have to withstand during use.
Innovative functional assembly Capstan Atlantic and Delphi Automotive won the grand prize in this category for a planetary gear set used in an automatic minivan rear door latch. To make the set's carrier plate, four planetary pinions, ring gear, and sun gear, Capstan employs proprietary tooling methods capable of producing high-precision involute gear teeth. It also sinter-hardens the gears for wear resistance and strength and treats them with a proprietary plating process. This plating requires no resin impregnation for porosity sealing and allows the gears to withstand a salt spray test of more than 200 hours. The planetary and ring gears are made to a density of 6.95 g/cm³ and have a tensile strength of 100,000 psi, and a yield strength of 90,000 psi. The spur sun gear has a tensile strength of 120,000 psi, a yield strength of 105,000 psi, and fatigue limit of 35,000 psi.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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