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November 23, 1999

3 Min Read
Managing a successful MIM startup

Mimtec AG, a Swiss MIM molder, opened its doors for business in April 1999 with just two employees and one customer. By October the company employed nine, was running up to 20 hours a day, and expected to produce over one million parts by the end of the year for just one member of its now growing customer base.

Mimtec began when Perfecta Schmid AG, a Swiss textile machinery manufacturer that was purchasing MIM parts, decided it would be more efficient to make the parts itself. The new division it formed for this task became Mimtec two years later. It is now a separate company. Mimtec still efficiently molds parts for Perfecta Schmid and for a rapidly growing number of other customers in a variety of fields.

The company uses 150 kg of feedstock per day and is looking to expand. It has plans to sell the feedstocks it batch mixes in-house. And, provided it can find the time, Mimtec also may sell its proprietary MIM processing equipment on the open market.

“We had only two people in April. I would say we are well on our way,” smiles Glenn Peier, formerly Mimtec’s technical director and now its president. Although the company was started by a plastics businessman with no prior experience in MIM, Peier brought seven years of MIM experience from another European factory.

In addition to the stunning, world-class layout and appearance of Mimtec’s 1500-sq-m shop floor, and its highly productive manufacturing systems, Peier was responsible for the design of Mimtec’s proprietary fluid debinder, which speeds up overall production cycles and ensures consistent part quality (Figure 1). Existing debinding and sintering capacity can support three more molding cells.

The cells, like the entire Mimtec plant, are designed to run lights out, 24/7. Mimtec has standardized on Arburg molding machines, equipped with Selogica controls. Geiger Handling engineered the fully automated product handling support systems, which transfer parts directly to the fluid debinder (Figure 2).

Peier’s expertise also went into Mimtec’s proprietary feedstock formulations. These presently include mixes of carbonyl iron powders (purchased from BASF and ISP) and Mimtec’s own thermoplastic binder. Stainless steel, specialty steels and alloys, and bronze feedstocks are in the works.

Another of Peier’s colleagues, Fabio Cordaro, is Mimtec’s product engineering manager. Cordaro helped design Mimtec’s own continuous debinding and sintering line, and its two batch sintering furnaces, all of which help Mimtec maintain part tolerance accuracies to within ±.3 percent of nominal size.

Big, Big Plans
Peier is as confident of Mimtec’s continuing success as he is of his company’s ability to advance the MIM state of the art. Mimtec is already producing optical data transfer components with plastic inserts, and is experimenting with molding complex, large MIM parts.

Peier believes that parts weighing up to 500g (just over 1 lb) are absolutely possible, thanks to his company’s feedstocks. They provide the quick debinding required for mass production of large, thick-walled parts. Mimtec does not intend to specialize in manufacturing for any specific market. At present, its production is targeted at a central European customer base, but interest from other regions is welcome.

Contact information
Mimtec AG
Rorschach, Switzerland
Glenn Peier
Phone: +41 (71) 844-1688
Fax: +41 (71) 844-1677
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.mimtec.com

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