Faculty of Engineering

Metal injection moulding

Our aim is to transform the use of titanium (Ti) metal injection moulding components to generate new opportunities for industry, by providing the ability to produce high quality and fit-for-purpose components.

Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) is an emerging technology that has been used for fabricating large volumes of small to medium size metal components out of materials such as stainless steel, copper, nickel and tungsten alloys.

The MIM process is a combination of plastics injection moulding and powder sintering. Production of high quality, complex components from reactive metals such as titanium has been restricted by high cost and problems such as carbon and oxygen contamination. This project takes on the technological challenges in the use of MIM for production of Ti components, leading to cost-effective manufacturing in a wide range of industries.

tools used in metal injection moulding
A range of shapes and small components can be made using this technique (memory stick shown for size comparison). These parts are un-sintered (green) parts.

Key focus areas/issues

One of the main benefits of this technology is the ability to cost-effectively produce complex parts from high-performance materials. This is also the key focus of the research.

This project will:

  1. Develop new binders appropriate for reactive metals
  2. Develop an effective debinding process
  3. Optimise sintering
  4. Undertake numerical analysis and tooling design - each product needs a unique model to simulate the injection and mould filling process.


Current major developments

So far we have identified a promising polymer and have been working on how binder compositions and powder characteristics affect the injectability of the feedstock. More work is under way to optimise the binder design, debinding processing, and sintering in order to be able to control impurity pickup to minimal.

The Titanium metal injection moulding (Ti-MIM) project was funded by the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment in 2012.

Key people

Peng Cao
Chemical and Materials Engineering

Rainer Grupp
Light Metals Research Centre

Neil Edmonds

John Cater
Engineering Science

Raj Das
Mechanical Engineering