3D metal moulding takes 3D printing to the mass market
CMG Technologies, the UK’s leading Metal Injection Moulding (MIM) specialist, successfully trademarked the term ‘CMG Technologies 3D Metal Moulding ®’ as part of the company’s efforts to raise awareness of the scope of opportunities offered by MIM.
While more and more manufacturers are becoming familiar with the capabilities of 3D Metal Printing and Metal Additive Manufacturing, the process and benefits offered by Metal Injection Moulding are less well-known in the UK.
CMG’s Managing Director, Rachel Garrett, elaborates, “Although 3D printing has been around for more than 30 years, it is only in recent years that it has become widely recognised in the manufacturing industry.
“Previously known as SLA, or Stereolithography, the term ‘3D printing’ captured the attention of both industry and the general public and, we believe, coupled with significant developments in technology which reduced both the size and costs of 3D printing machines, played a vital role in the process gaining widespread understanding.”
CMG is hoping to replicate the success of this transition for metal injection moulding. MIM is still a relatively new industry and a significant number of companies that need to procure complex metal components may not be aware of its existence, let alone the savings they could make in terms of cost, lead times and environmental impact.
The phrase ‘3D metal moulding’ paints an immediate picture of what it is that CMG Technologies actually does, as Rachel explains, “Whilst the term metal injection moulding describes the process well, it is not always exactly clear what the outcome is - 3D parts moulded from metal. To those involved in this industry like we are, this sounds obvious, but to people unfamiliar with MIM hopefully this term makes it easier to understand what we do.”
CMG Technologies’ Senior Engineers have more than 25 years’ experience in developing the MIM process and believe it could play a vital role for companies looking to take 3D metal printed prototypes to the mass market.
Rachel adds: “Rather than being seen as a competitor to 3D metal printing, MIM can actually provide the stepping stone needed between prototype and volume production. Once the initial tooling is complete we are able to deliver huge volumes of parts in a far wider variety of materials than is currently possible with 3D printing.”
3D metal moulding is perfect for producing parts with complex geometries – even the smallest parts can be perfectly replicated time and time again. CMG Technologies has the capability to manufacture a component with major dimensions of just 1.85mm x 1.60mm x 0.835mm with a 100µm hole and a small groove on one of the faces - at significantly lower costs than using traditional manufacturing methods.
“3D metal moulding is most effective for small, complex components in annual volumes of 1000 or more, although if the part is particularly complex and expensive the 3D moulding process could still be cost effective for volumes of 500 or more. And because we mix our own feedstock, we have the in-house metallurgy capabilities to produce parts from a wide range of materials including titanium and precious metals. This makes our capabilities particularly attractive for manufacturing parts used in the aerospace and medical devices sectors,” says Rachel.