A custom made tool is fitted into a standard moulding machine and the feedstock is injection moulded into it to produce a net shaped 'Green' component. Correctly producing the initial tool is just as critical as using the right feedstock, as the quality of the finished part will depend on both.
Removing the binding agent
Once moulded, the 'Green' component is transferred to a debind oven where the binding agent is removed either thermally or using solvent. Once ‘debound’ the parts are very brittle and porous as only one binder remains, at this stage parts are referred to as 'Brown' components.
The final stage of the 3D Metal Moulding process is to sinter the ‘Brown’ part in a controlled atmosphere. Temperatures are taken to just below the material’s melting point, allowing menisci to form between the particles. Controlled, uniform shrinkage of on average 17% occurs at this stage and the component densifies to its finished size, shape and tolerance parameters.
When sintering is complete, the high density 'White' component has equivalent properties to wrought materials and can be heat treated, polished, plated or welded.
Post sintering operations
If required, secondary operations such as heat treatment, plating, polishing and welding can take place.
The industry standard working tolerance is +/- 0.5% of a dimension - this can be improved through secondary operations or tooling development if required.