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Manufacturing Engineering Technology in SI Units, 6th Edition

Chapter 17:
Powder-Metal Processing and Equipment

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Chapter Outline

1. Introduction
2. Production of Metal Powders
3. Compaction of Metal Powders
4. Sintering
5. Secondary and Finishing Operations
6. Design Considerations
7. Process Capabilities
8. Economics of Powder Metallurgy
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Introduction
 Raw materials for metals and alloys are in a molten
state (casting) or in solid form (metalworking)
 Powder metallurgy (PM) process involves metal
powders compacted into desired shapes and sintered
to form a solid piece

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Production of Metal Powders
 Powder-metallurgy process consists of:
1. Powder production
2. Blending
3. Compaction
4. Sintering
5. Finishing operations

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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
 The choice of producing metal powders depends on
the requirements of the end product
 The microstructure, bulk and surface properties,
chemical purity, porosity, shape, and size distribution of
the particles depend on the particular process used

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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
Atomization
 Involves a liquid-metal stream produced by injecting
molten metal through a small orifice
 Stream is broken up by jets of inert gas or air or water
known as gas or water atomization

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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
Atomization
 Size and shape of the particles formed depend on the
temperature of the molten metal, rate of flow, nozzle
size, and jet characteristics
 In centrifugal atomization, the centrifugal forces break
up the stream and generate particles

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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
Reduction
 The reduction of metal oxides uses gases, such as
hydrogen and carbon monoxide, as reducing agents

Electrolytic Deposition
 Used either aqueous solutions or fused salts

Carbonyls
 Metal carbonyls are formed by letting iron or nickel
react with carbon monoxide
 Reaction products are decomposed to iron and nickel
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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
Comminution
 Involves crushing milling in a ball mill, or grinding of
brittle or less ductile metals into small particles
 A ball mill is a machine with a rotating hollow cylinder
partly filled with steel or white cast-iron balls

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Production of Metal Powders:
Methods of Powder Production
Mechanical Alloying
 Powders of two or more pure metals are mixed in a ball
mill
 Under the impact of the hard balls, the powders
fracture and bond together by diffusion

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Production of Metal Powders:
Particle Size, Shape, and Distribution
 Particle size is controlled by passing the metal powder
through screens of various mesh sizes, called
screening
 Other methods for particle-size analysis are:
1. Sedimentation
2. Microscopic analysis
3. Light scattering
4. Optical methods
5. Suspending particles

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Production of Metal Powders:
Particle Size, Shape, and Distribution
Particle Shape
 Particle shape is described in terms of aspect ratio or
shape factor
 Aspect ratio is the ratio of the largest dimension to the
smallest dimension of the particle

Shape Factor
 A measure of the ratio of the surface area of the
particle to its volume

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Production of Metal Powders:
Particle Size, Shape, and Distribution
Size Distribution
 Affects the processing characteristics of the powder
 Distribution of particle size is given in terms of a
frequency-distribution plot
 Properties of metal powders that affect their behavior in
processing are:
1. Flow properties
2. Compressibility
3. Density

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Production of Metal Powders:
Blending Metal Powders
 Blending (mixing) powders is the next step in powder-
metallurgy processing
 Powder mixing must be carried out under controlled
conditions in order to avoid contamination or
deterioration

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Production of Metal Powders:
Blending Metal Powders
Hazards
 Metal powders can be explosive due to high surface
area–to-volume ratio
 Precautions include:
1. Grounding equipment
2. Preventing sparks and avoiding friction as a source of
heat
3. Avoiding dust clouds, open flames, and chemical
reactions

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Compaction of Metal Powders

 Compaction is the step where the blended powders are


pressed into various shapes in dies

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Compaction of Metal Powders

 Purposes of compaction are to obtain the required


shape, density and particle-to-particle contact
 Pressed powder is known as green compact
 Density depends on the pressure applied
 Higher the density of the compacted part, the higher
are its strength and elastic modulus

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Compaction of Metal Powders

 May be necessary to use multiple punches to ensure


that the density is more uniform throughout the part

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Equipment
 Compacting pressure required depends on the
characteristics and shape of the particles, method of
blending and lubricant

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Equipment
 Hydraulic presses with capacities as high as 45 MN,
can be used for large parts
 Press selection depends on part size and the
configuration, density requirements, and production
rate

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
 Green compacts is subjected to hydrostatic pressure to
achieve more uniform compaction and density
 In cold isostatic pressing (CIP), the metal powder is
placed in a flexible rubber mold

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
 Green compacts is subjected to hydrostatic pressure to
achieve more uniform compaction and density
 In cold isostatic pressing (CIP) the metal powder is
placed in a flexible rubber mold

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
 In hot isostatic pressing (HIP), the container is made
of a high-melting-point sheet metal and the
pressurizing medium is a high-temperature inert gas

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
 The HIP process is used to produce superalloy
components for the aircraft and aerospace industries
 It also is used:
1. To close internal porosity
2. To improve properties in superalloy and titanium-alloy
castings for the aerospace industry
3. As a final densification

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
 Advantages of hot isostatic pressing are:
1. Produces fully dense compacts of uniform grain
structure and density
2. Handling larger parts

 Limitations of HIP:
1. Wider dimensional tolerances
2. Higher equipment cost and production
3. Small production quantities

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Isostatic Pressing
EXAMPLE 17.1
Hot Isostatic Pressing of a Valve Lifter
 Figure shows a valve lifter for heavy-duty diesel
engines
 Produced from a hot-isostatic-pressed carbide cap on
a steel shaft

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Miscellaneous Compacting and Shaping Processes

Powder-injection Molding
 Also called metal-injection molding
 Very fine metal powders are blended with a 25 to 45%
polymer or a wax-based binder
 Mixture undergoes a process similar to die casting
 Advantages of powder-injection molding are:
1. Complex shapes
2. Good dimensional tolerances
3. High production rates

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Miscellaneous Compacting and Shaping Processes

EXAMPLE 17.2
Mobile Phone Components Produced through Metal Injection Molding
 Powder-metal components for mobile phones to
achieve a flip-open feature

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Miscellaneous Compacting and Shaping Processes

Forging
 Products from powder forging (PF) are fully dense,
good surface finish, good dimensional tolerances, and
a uniform and fine grain size

Rolling
 Also called roll compaction
 Metal powder is fed into the
roll gap in a two-high rolling
mill and compacted into
a continuous strip

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Miscellaneous Compacting and Shaping Processes

Extrusion
 Powders is compacted by extrusion whereby the
powder is encased in a metal container and hot
extruded

Pressureless Compaction
 The die is gravity filled with metal powder and the
powder is sintered directly in the die

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Miscellaneous Compacting and Shaping Processes

Spray Deposition
 It is a shape-generation process die
 Basic components are
1. An atomizer
2. A spray chamber with an inert atmosphere
3. A mold for producing preforms

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Compaction of Metal Powders:
Punch and Die Materials

 Selection depends on the abrasiveness of the powder


metal and the number of parts to be produced
 Close control of die and punch dimensions is essential
for proper compaction and die life
 Large clearance will allow the metal powder to enter
the gap
 Die and punch surfaces must be polished for improved
die life and overall performance

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Sintering

 Sintering is the process whereby green compacts are


heated in a furnace to below the melting point but high
enough to allow bonding (fusion) of the individual
particles

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Sintering

 Strength of the bond between the particles depends on


the complex mechanisms of diffusion of:
1. Plastic flow
2. Evaporation of volatile materials in the compact
3. Recrystallization
4. Grain growth
5. Pore shrinkage

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Sintering

 Continuous-sintering furnaces have 3 chambers:


1. Burn-off chamber
2. High-temperature chamber
3. Cooling chamber
 The sintering mechanisms are diffusion, vapor-phase
transport, and liquid-phase sintering

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Sintering

Mechanical Properties
 Affecting mechanical properties are temperature, time,
and processing history
 Porosity cannot be avoided completely due to voids
remaining after compaction and gases evolve during
sintering

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Sintering

Mechanical Properties

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Sintering

Mechanical Properties

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Sintering

Mechanical Properties

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Secondary and Finishing Operations

 Further improvement for the properties of sintered PM


products are:
1. Coining and sizing
2. Preformed and sintered alloy-powder
3. Subject to finishing operations
4. Reduce porosity by impregnating PM components
with a fluid
5. Infiltration
6. Electroplating

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Design Considerations

 Certain design principles that should be followed:


1. Simple and uniform shape of the compact
2. Provision must be made for ejection of the green
compact
3. PM parts made with acceptable dimensional tolerances
4. Part walls should not be less than 1.5 mm thick

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Design Considerations

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Design Considerations

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Process Capabilities

 Process capabilities of powder metallurgy are:


1. A technique for making parts from high-melting-point
refractory metals
2. High production rates
3. Good dimensional control
4. Availability of a wide range of compositions
5. Capability of impregnation and infiltration

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Process Capabilities

 Limitations of PM are:
1. High cost of metal powder
2. High cost of tooling and equipment
3. Limitations on part size and shape complexity
4. Mechanical properties are lower

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Economics of Powder Metallurgy

 Powder metallurgy can produce parts at net or near-


net shape
 Eliminate many secondary manufacturing and
assembly operations
 High initial cost of punches, dies, and equipment
 Economical for quantities over 10,000 pieces and labor
costs would not be high
 Reduces scrap

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Economics of Powder Metallurgy

CASE STUDY 17.1


Powder Metallurgy Parts in a Snowblower
 Collection of PM parts in a commercial snowblower

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