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9.1 Introduction
What is Powder Metallurgy(PM)?
Process for forming metal parts by heating compacted metal
powders to just below their melting points
Can be mass produced to net shape or near net shape,
eliminating or reducing the need for subsequent machining.
Common PM powders:
iron,copper,aluminium,tin,nickel,titanium and refractory metals
Brass,bronze,steel,stainless steel-prealloyed powders (powder
particle itself is alloy)
Commonly for parts weighs less than 2kg can go up to 50 kg


Net-shape or near-net shape parts made of expensive
materials. PM process is capable of less than 3% scrap losses.
Parts with porosity such as filters can be made.
Bearings especially so-called permanently lubricated bearings,
in which air pores in the PM parts are filled with oil (process of
parts of certain metals and metal alloys that are difficult to
fabricate by other methods (carbide tool inserts, tungsten,
ceramics, etc.)
parts of materials with special and unique properties (alloys
that cannot be produced by other processes)

Less waste (97% starting powders are used)
Can control degree of porosity
Reduce requirement for further machining (because near net
Can produce parts for difficult to fabricate material e.g
tungsten filaments of incandescent lamp
Good dimensional control compared to most casting
Can be automated - economical production
Electrical, thermal & magnetic properties vary with density
Porosity promotes good sound & vibration damping
Combine with certain metal alloy and cermets
High tooling and equipment costs
Metallic powders are expensive
Problems in storing and handling metal powders
- Degradation over time, fire hazards with certain metals
Limitations on part geometry because metal powders do not

Engineering powders:
Classification of powders:
The starting material in PM
consist of fine particles of
uniform sizes so-called the
engineering powders.
Produced from raw metallic or
nonmetallic powders, which
contains particles of different
sizes by separation of particles
according to their size.
The procedure of separating
the powders by size is called
classification of powders.

Particle size:
Powders are classified by
passing them through a
series of screens of
mesh size.
The particle size is
defined by the so-called
mesh count, term that
refers to the number of
openings per linear inch
of mesh.

Particle shape
-describe in terms of aspect ratio or shape factor
Aspect ratio: largest dimensions/smallest dimension of

9.2 Production of metal powder

Method of production
Depends on requirement of products(microstructure,bulk and
surface properties,chemical purity,porosity,shape,particle size
Electrolytic deposition
Mechanical alloying

produces a liquidmetal stream by
injecting molten
metal through a
small orifice.
Figure show the
methods of metalpowder production
by atomization:
(a) gas
(b) water
(c) atomization with
a rotating
electrode; and
(d) centrifugal
atomization with a
spinning disk or
In centrifugal
atomization, the

reduction of metal oxides (i.e., removal of oxygen) uses gases, such
as hydrogen and carbon monoxide, as reducing agents.
- very fine metallic oxides
metallic powder
Powders spongy, porous and uniformly sized spherical or angular

Electrolytic deposition (Electrolysis)

In this method, an electrolytic cell is set up in which the source of
desired metal is the anode.
It is slowly dissolved and deposited on the cathode from where the
deposit is removed, washed and dried.-Purest powder produced

Metal carbonyls, such as iron carbonyl and nickel carbonyl are
formed by
letting iron or nickel react with carbon monoxide-reaction products
are decomposed to iron and nickel - small, dense, uniformly
spherical particles of high purity.

mechanically crushing, milling in mill ball or grinding brittle
material into small particles.

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, forming alloy powders.

9.3 Blending of metal powder

Blending and mixing
Blending : mixing powder of the same chemical
composition but different sizes
: combining powders of different chemistries

Purpose for blending and mixing

To impart special physical and mechanical properties and

characteristics to the P/M product.

To obtain uniformity in size and shape of powders.

To improve powder flow characteristics by mixing with

lubricant. They reduce friction between the metal particles,
improve flow of the powder metals into the dies, and
improve die life.

To develop sufficient green strength and facilitate sintering

by adding additivesbinders (as in sand molds)
Powder mixing must be carried out under controlled conditions in
order to avoid contamination or deterioration.

9.4 Compaction of metal powder

What is compaction?
Step which blended powders
are pressed in die
- To obtain required
shape,density and particle-toparticle contact
- To make part sufficiently
strong for next process
Density of green compact
depends on pressure appliedhigher density,higher
strength,highers modulus of
Figure (a) shows the compaction of metal powder to form a bushing. The
pressed powder part is called green compact. (b) Typical tool and die set
for compacting a spur gear.

Since density can vary (due to friction between 1)metal

particle & powder particle 2)punch surface & die wall),proper
punch & die design and friction control are needed to control
density variation

Density variation in compacting metal powders in different dies: (a) and (c) singleaction
press; (b) and (d) double-action press,where the punches have separate movements.
Note the greater uniformity of density in (d) as compared with (c). Generally, uniformity
density is preferred, although there are situations in which density variation, and hence
variation of properties, within a part may be desirable. Source: After P. Duwez
and L. Zwell.

Miscellaneous compacting and shaping processes

Powder injection molding
- also known as metal injection molding
- suitable for metal melts above 100C
- fine metal powder + polymer/wax based binder
inject in mold
(similar to die casting)
- products:watches components,surgical knives,door hinges
- advantages:
1) Complex shapes having wall thicknesses as small as 5 mm can be
molded and then removed easily from the dies.
2) Mechanical properties are nearly equal to those of wrought
3) Dimensional tolerances are good.
4) High production rates can be achieved by using multicavity dies.
5) Parts produced by the PIM process compete well against small
investment-cast parts, small forgings, and complex machined parts.
However, it does not compete well with zinc and aluminum die
or with screw machining.

- the metal powder is fed into the roll gap in a two-high
rolling mill and is compacted into a continuous strip at
speeds of up to 0.5 m/s.
- Sheet metal for electrical and electronic components and
for coins can be made by this process.

- Powders can be compacted by extrusion, whereby the
powder is encased in a metal container and hot extruded.
- After sintering, preformed P/M parts may be reheated
and forged in a closed die to their final shape.
- Superalloy powders, for example, are hot extruded for
enhanced properties.
Pressureless compaction
- the die is filled with metal powder by gravity, and the
powder is sintered directly in the die.-low density
- is used principally for porous metal parts, such as filters.
Spray decomposition

9.5 Sintering of metal powder

What is sintering?
Step whereby green compacts are heated in controllable
atmosphere furnace to temperature below melting point
but sufficient enough to allow bonding (fusion) of individual
Part shrinkage occurs during sintering due to pore size
reduction .

Sintering process sequence

Sintering on a microscopic scale: (1) particle bonding is initiated at contact

points; (2) contact points grow into "necks"; (3) the pores between
particles are reduced in size; and (4) grain boundaries develop between
particles in place of the necked regions.

9.6 Secondary and finishing


Additional operations:
1. Coining and sizing- to impart dimensional accuracy,improve
strength &
surface finish
2. Forging (hot or cold) on preformed and sintered alloy powder
3. Machining-milling,drilling,tapping
4. Grinding
5. Plating-improve appearance,resistance to wear and corrosion
6. Heat treating-improve hardness and strength
7. Impregnation-immerse sintered bearing in heated oil-no need
traditional grease fittings
8. Infiltration- pores of the PM part are filled with a molten metal
-heating the filler metal in contact with the sintered component so
capillary action draws the filler into the pores -Resulting structure
is relatively nonporous, and the infiltrated part has a more uniform
density, as well as improved toughness and strength

Porosity is a characteristic trait of powder processed
In some cases the goal is to mitigate or eliminate porosity.
In other cases a certain level of porosity is desired. As
discussed, porosity exists within the green compact.
Amount of porosity in the green compact can be
controlled to some extent by the level of pressure used to
press the compact. If the compact is not fully pressed,
more porosity will occur than with complete compaction.
In fact, in loose sintering the powder is not pressed at all,
achieving very high porosity for special components such
as metal filters.

Infiltration is the filling of a metal's pores with
another metal of lower melting point than the base
The infiltration metal is heated to a temperature
above its melting point but below that of the
porous metal part. Liquid metal is allowed to enter
into the porous network and solidifies, filling the
pores with solid metal.
Infiltration can produce parts with special
mechanical properties. Iron infiltrated with copper
is a common example of this process in
manufacturing industry.

Impregnation is the filling of the pores in a metal
with a fluid.
A common application of this is in the production of
self lubricating components such as bearings and
gears. In these cases, the powder processed part is
usually soaked in hot oil.
Parts are typically 10%-30% oil impregnated by
Sometimes a part will be impregnated with polymer
resin to prevent other substances from entering the
pores or to assist with further processing.

9.7 Process design and


Design considerations
1. The shape of the parts must be as simple as possible.
2. Parts should be made with the widest tolerances. The PM
process is capable of achieving tolerances of bigger than
0.1 mm.
3. Hole and grooves must be parallel to the direction of

4. Sharp corners, radii, thin section must be avoided.

Minimum wall thickness is 1.5 mm. Corners radii and
chamfers are still possible, but certain rules should be

Process capabilities
The process capabilities of powder metallurgy may be summarized
as follows:
1. It is a technique for making parts from high-melting-point
refractory metals, and parts which may be difficult or
uneconomical to produce by other methods.
2. High production rates are possible on relatively complex parts
using automated equipment and requiring little labor.
3. Powder-metal processing offers good dimensional control and
(in many instances) the elimination of machining and finishing
operations; in this way, it reduces scrap and waste and saves
4. The availability of a wide range of compositions makes it
possible to obtain special mechanical and physical properties,
such as stiffness, vibration damping, hardness, density,
toughness, and specific electrical and magnetic properties.
Some of the newer highly alloyed superalloys can be
manufactured into parts only by P/M processing.
5. It offers the capability of impregnation and infiltration for
specific applications.

Case study-Polarizing keys

Size: 2.05 mm (0.080 in.)
Weight: 0.5 g (0.001 lb.)
Alloy: Nickel Silver (Copper + Nickel + Zinc)
Tensile Strength: 230 MPa (34,000 psi)
Yield Strength: 140 MPa (20,000 psi)
Elongation: 14%
Apparent Hardness: 85 HRH Density: 7.9 g/cm (0.285 lb./in.)
Secondary Operations: None
Alternative Process: None
Annual Production: 200,000
Used in electrical rack and panel connectors on aircraft flight data recorders, these
thin-walled parts have an ultimate tensile strength of 230 MPa (34,000 psi), a yield
strength of 140 MPa (20,000 psi), 85 HRH hardness and a 14% elongation. Designed
to a net shape, the parts require no secondary operations. The tooling system for the
three-level part includes an upper punch, auxiliary die, lower punch, die and core to
form the through hole and a 30 angle. The parts withstand a 500
connect/disconnect cycle test without measurable wear and are also tested for
electrical conductivity. Polarizing keys are used on multiple types of connectors
on aircraft aviation systems. They were designed specifically for powder metallurgy,
as other
manufacturing techniques could not provide the shape and properties required at a

PM is net-shape forming process-compaction can be cold or
hot isostatic pressing for improved properties-can produce
complex parts economically,close dimensional tolerance,wide
variety of metal and alloy powders
Secondary process may be done to improve dimensional
accuracy,surface finish ,mechanical & physical properties and
Control of powder shape and quality, process variables,and
sintering atmosphere are important for product quality-density
and mechanical properties can be controlled by tooling design
and compacting pressure
Design consideration for PM :sharp of part,ability to eject
green compact from die, dimensional tolerance
PM is suitable for medium-high volume production, small parts