The medical/dental market (32 percent) has replaced firearms as the leading market in North America for metal injection molding (MIM). Demand for metal molded parts for the firearms industry has been declining for the past two years, according to data released by the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF).
Fears about terrorism could cause a new spike in firearms sales, but the medical market is for real. New prize-winning applications show why.
Parmatech Corp., Petaluma, California, won an MPIF grand prize for four stainless steel MIM components used in an articulating device designed specifically for thoracic surgery. All the parts feature complex 3D geometry that would be difficult (read expensive) to machine. Savings are estimated at 70 percent.
The parts were designed for powder metal molding.
An Award of Distinction in the MPIF Medical/Dental Category went to Flomet, (ARC Group Worldwide), DeLand, Florida, for a MIM tungsten electrode used in a surgical ablation device that uses high temperature for the removal of tissue.
The use of tungsten enables the electrode to reach and maintain its operating temperature better than with other alloys.
Another Award of Distinction in the Medical/Dental Category was given to Advanced FormingTechnology (also ARC Group Worldwide), Longmont, California, for a MIM wedge blank used in an endoscopic staple gun. Made from a MIM-440 stainless steel, the part’s 5 mm diameter size, less than half the previous low of 12 mm, enables procedures in pediatric patients.
Members of the U.S. Metal Injection Molding Association (MIMA) forecast overall business increasing in the 5 to 10 percent range in 2016. According to a recent private research report, the global powder injection molding (PIM) market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.3 percent through 2020.