Winning Parts from Powder (Metal)

Although 3D printing is getting lots of buzz in both the technical and consumer arenas, there is another process that’s been around longer (as in about 100 years) that cleverly creates production parts: powder metallurgy (PM). As the name implies, metal powders, placed in a die, are transformed into parts through the application of pressure and heat.

Although 3D printing is getting lots of buzz in both the technical and consumer arenas, there is another process that’s been around longer (as in about 100 years) that cleverly creates production parts: powder metallurgy (PM).

As the name implies, metal powders, placed in a die, are transformed into parts through the application of pressure and heat. Yes, powder, then parts.

According to the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF), more than 800-million pounds of PM parts are produced annually in North America.

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Planetary carrier assembly

One company that is clearly really good at this is GKN Sinter Metals because in the 2017 Powder Metallurgy Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by MPIF, GKN Sinter Metals, won two of the three grand prizes in the Automotive Category. (There are also awards in the Hand Tools/Recreation, Hardware/Appliance, Medical/Dental, and Industrial Motors/Controls categories, all of which is to say that not all of those 800-million pounds of parts go into cars and trucks.)

It received one for a planetary carrier assembly for the new Ford 10-speed transmission used in the F-150, a sinter-brazed copper-steel assembly consisting of a cage and a flanged hub. This was in the Transmission category. GKN Sinter Metals supplies the assembly to Ford.

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Copper-steel output pulley

It also received a grand prize in the Chassis category. In this case it is for a copper-steel output pulley made for Nidec Automotive Motor Americas. The pulley is used in an electric reclining mechanism that’s used in the rear seat of a minivan. The PM part features a groove for cable retention, a cam for radial movement and stops at both ends.

PhillipsMedicize

Four-slot fuel valve seat

It should be noted that Phillips-Medisize was also a grand prize winner, in this case in the Engine category. It produces a four-slot fuel valve seat that it makes for Delphi. It is a metal injection molded (MIM) part that goes into a fuel injector that Delphi has developed for compressed natural gas engines, the Multec3.5.

Yes, they all start with powder and come out as precision parts.