A Bangalore-based company that produces complex and high-performance parts for automotive and other applications cranked up its metal injection molding (MIM) capacity by 40% in 2010.
Sam Murthy, Director of Marketing for Indo-US MIM Tec (P) Ltd., told AEI that Indo-MIM has the world's largest installed MIM capacity. There are 76 molding machines, 9 batch furnaces, and 4 continuous furnaces operating at the company's Hoskote and Doddaballaur facilities in India. A fine-focus X-ray machine was recently added to Indo-MIM's testing arsenal.
In addition to headquarters and manufacturing facilities in India, Indo-MIM has satellite offices in the U.S. and Europe. The company has developed more than 1200 parts since 1998 for automotive and other markets.
Parts produced by Indo-MIM are used throughout the vehicle and include sensor housings, seatbelt mechanisms, brake parts, and ABS components for safety applications; injector nozzles, armatures, and housings for fuel systems; seating mechanisms for interiors; turbocharger components, hydraulic spools, and rocker arms for powertrain; and connectors and heat sinks for electrical systems.
High-strength steels, stainless steels, refractory metals, titanium, and copper alloys are the most common materials used in the MIM process to produce a part that typically weighs between 50 and 240 g (1.8 and 8.8 oz).
Examples of Indo-MIM parts will be on display (booth 1012) at the 2011 SAE World Congress April 12-14 in Detroit.
MIM is a manufacturing process that combines the shape-making complexity of plastic injection molding with the material flexibility of powder metallurgy (PM). The production process encompasses four major steps: compounding, molding, de-binding, and sintering.
In the compounding step, fine metal powder is homogeneously mixed with the required chemistry—three to five different grades of binders at an appropriate ratio—to produce a feedstock for molding. The feedstock is then injected under high pressure into an engineered mold cavity to form a specific shape. After the shape cools, it is ejected from the mold to undergo a de-binding process for removal of binder constituents. In the final step, the part is subjected to high temperature via a vacuum furnace to fuse the metal powders in a near fully dense solid.
"Like wrought material, the sintered parts can undergo heat treatment, milling, grinding, tapping, and surface coating, or any other secondary process if required," said Murthy.
In addition to various off-the-shelf material solutions for heat, wear, and corrosion resistance, Indo-MIM also relies on its in-house materials laboratory and is a pioneer in using the MIM process with the material Triboloy XEV Nimonic 90/60, according to Murphy. "This high-temperature-resistant material is used in turbocharger components like vanes, rollers, and spacer pins," he said.
Indo-MIM's production volumes vary from 1 to 3 million units per month, said Murthy. Although the typical lead time for tool build and samples is 8 to 10 weeks, shorter lead times are possible. Manufacturing plants include the Hoskote facility (the primary handler of low to medium volume applications) and the Doddaballapur operation (the primary source for medium to high volume parts). Indo-MIM's worldwide employment tally is 1200, including 200 engineers.