BCC Research: Medical parts buoy MIM

The metal and ceramic injection molding market is growing at an 11.4% annual clip, buoyed in recent years by strong growth in medical and dental applications.

According to a new report from BCC Research (Wellesley, MA), the global metal and ceramic injection molding components market is expected to grow to nearly $2.9 billion by 2018.

One example of the trend is an oxygen regulator device in which four machined parts are replaced with one

MIM stapling shuttle. (MPIF)

 injection molded component. The part contains the main body, a tube, and two screws. The new design also incorporates molded-in threads.

"Metal injection molding is a huge advantage for this type of part as it is capable of molding the entire part into one piece, saving time and additional costs," says an engineer for Phillips-Medisize (Hudson, WI), which produces the component.

Phillips-Medisize last year significantly expanded its MIM capacity through a debottlenecking project.

Another example is a stainless steel MIM shuttle used in a "smart" stapling device for arthroscopic surgery. The shuttle contains two components that previously were combined via laser welding. Mechanicals include 200,000 psi ultimate tensile strength, and 160,000 psi yield strength. The fabricator is Polymer Technologies (Clifton, NJ).

Many medical plastics processors have adopted MIM processing as a way to expand services to existing customers and to take advantage of their injection molding knowhow.

One of the interesting trends noted in the BCC report, however, is the growth of large global firms that specialize in MIM

The first two MIM manufacturers to break the $50 million sales barrier are the ARC Group, because of a recent acquisition, and Indo-U.S. MIM. As many as 10 could hit the $50 million mark by 2018.


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