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Contract manufacturing


materials, and developing the strong moulding and sintering processes required for the production of high-quality components. MIM suppliers are also required to have strong scientific problem-solving and metrology skills.


The art of metal injection moulding also allows for a design freedom that may not be possible through other manufacturing methods. MIM tooling can form very complex geometries that would be expensive to machine. Even if the geometry is able to be machined, scaling may be difficult without a large investment. By contrast, one MIM tool can produce anywhere between one and one million components with relative ease. The mechanical properties of MIM are also very good. MIM components can achieve greater than 97% density on average and can stand up to the rigorous requirements of medical device manufacturers. However, one disadvantage to MIM is dimensional tolerancing. As a rule of thumb, MIM can hold +/-0.5% of the dimension. To overcome this, secondary operations such as machining and coining may be performed. The surface finish of MIM components is also slightly less polished than that of machined components. On average, MIM can achieve finishes of 0.8–1μm. Nonetheless, MIM can process a wide variety of materials and can even be used to manufacture them in the same mould simultaneously. These alloys range from carbon steels, tool steels, stainless steels and bio- implantable steels, to soft-magnetic alloys, tungsten heavy alloys, copper and titanium. Each alloy can serve a specific purpose depending on the application. Raw material specification and powder size is extremely important to developing and manufacturing high- quality MIM components. If the metal powder is available in the appropriate size (less than 25µm) and it sinters to a sufficiently high density, then the material can be manufactured using the MIM process.


By design


Speed is of the essence when the goal is saving lives. Rapid prototyping has been shown to be perhaps just as important to the medical device


Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com 49


Typical attributes produced by the MIM process Attribute


Component mass (g) Max dimension (mm) Min wall thickness (mm) Tolerance (%) Density Production quantity


Minimum Typical 0.030


2 (0.08in) 0.025 (0.001in) 0.2% 93% 1000 10-15 25 (1in) 5 (0.2in) 0.5% 98% 100,000


Maximum 300


150 (6in) 15 (0.6in) 1% 100% 100,000,000


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