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Metal injection molding helps aviation manufacturing

Categories: ZCMIM NewsStars: 3StarsVisit: -Release time: 2019-12-26 08:26:00
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There are about 700,000 parts in a Boeing 737NG, and so far Boeing 737NG has produced more than 7,000. Many of these parts are made by traditional manufacturing methods, such as die casting, machining, metal finishing, electroplating, and so on.

Since 1980s, aerospace designers have been using new forms of metal injection molding in production of major aircraft parts. Metal injection molding (MIM) provides an alternative processing method for a large number of fasteners, screws, seat belt components, flap screw seals, bushing and many plasma components. By using MIM, durability and appearance of these important aerospace components can be enhanced.

Appropriate manufacturing process

More and more aviation designers are turning to MIM technology to save cost and ensure quality. With more than 49,000 aircraft expected to be produced worldwide by 2026, MIM could support huge demand for components.

Just as composite fibres have replaced aluminium in fuselage and wing structures and ceramics have replaced key engine components, MIM is replacing smaller, conventionally-machined metal parts. MIM is a mesh forming process used to produce solid metal parts that combines freely design of plastic injection molding with excellent material properties near forged metal.

MIM mixes metal powder with a thermoplastic adhesive and molds cavity. Molded parts are heat-treated (sintered) to remove adhesive and to produce a mesh of high-density components. Because it is a forming process, it can produce an almost infinite amount of highly complex three-dimensional geometry in many different metal alloys.

Electronic components can be excellent MIM candidate materials with excellent mechanical properties, such as micro-switches, connectors, solenoids, radiators, optical connectors and distribution racks.

Manufacturing cycle

Metal injection molding (MIM) projects can take up to 16 weeks to complete, starting with mold design and construction. Once tools are set, mass production of 2,500 or more can usually be completed in four weeks or less. Aircraft manufacturers need at least 10,000 starter units per year, and to ensure number and timing of parts delivered per quarter, aircraft manufacturers should release no less than 2,500 to 3,000 units per quarter, three or four times per year.MIM is more consistent and reliable in terms of quality, price and on-time delivery than in internal or outsourced precision machining, which requires parts.

The aircraft designer should take into account initial tooling cost and price of number of parts in a year, and then split estimated design life of that part.

Advantages of MIM

In past, aerospace manufacturers have used PM, injection molding, and precision machining for smaller part designs, but MIM has several advantages.

MIM parts have higher metal density and 3 times fatigue strength of PM parts. MIM parts also retain tensile strength of original material. In addition, PM component is limited to 2D features, while MIM is capable of satisfying complex aerospace geometry, including bottom cut, bore perpendicular to spindle, and 3D features.

MIM is generally lighter than precision machined aerospace components. Often, excess material is left in parts to save processing time and reduce costs. on the other hand, removes excess material, thus saving the weight, manufacturing time, materials and money of final part cost.

At same time, MIM components also perform better than injection molded parts in certain components, such as cockpits, seat assemblies, and seat belts. Because MIM parts with performance such as conductive, magnetic, robust, rigid, chemically resistant, and can perform well at temperatures well above melting temperatures of most polymers.


 MIM is an excellent choice when part batches exceed 10,000 pieces, parts size is 3 "or less, weight is less than 25g, shape is complex, and cost reduction is needed.MIM is usually specified for surface treatment flexibility allowing for surface treatment and color from matte stainless steel to highly polished.

Lightweight is a goal of aircraft design, and MIM technology is a powerful force in achieving that goal.

Keywords in the article: Metal injection molding
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