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April 1, 2002

6 Min Read
Industry Watch

TXM design guide 
Design engineers and others interested in unlocking the secrets of how to design parts that best exploit the benefits of the TXM process now have a new asset. Thixomat Inc. (Ann Arbor, MI) has completed a CD-ROM design manual for the company's patented TXM process.

Nearly one year in the making, the new design guide details all the steps involved in taking a TXM product from art to part. It includes information on properties, part configurations, dimensional tolerances, prototyping, and tooling. Part finishing, joining and fastening, and defect prevention guidelines also are included, as are illustrated examples of TXM parts, tables, and case histories.

Steve LeBeau, Thixomat's vp of sales and marketing, says he is very pleased with the feedback he's already received. "I called one design firm out in the western U.S. to find out if they liked it," LeBeau said. "They told me they'd already burned over a dozen copies to distribute to their engineers. Our marketing is primarily an education process, and the design disk is not copyrighted, so people who receive one are free to burn as many copies as they want."

Each TXM licensee will receive a free CD-ROM. For others, the cost is $20. However, in lieu of payment to Thixomat, company officials would prefer purchasers make a donation to the charity of their choice, or to Child Hope International (1703 Columbine Rd., Colorado Springs, CO 80907; [email protected]). For more information about the design guide, go to www.thixomat.com.

Feedstocks attain a newer, roomier latitude

The MIM business infrastructure has recently experienced a major change, one that has the potential to further accelerate the growth and acceptance of this technology. Latitude Mfg. Technology (Hackettstown, NJ) has obtained all the intellectual property rights and licensing privileges to make

Latitude Mfg. Technology has obtained rights to make and sell PowderFlo MIM feedstocks. Metal parts molded from PowderFlo were displayed prominently at NPE 2000.

and sell PowderFlo MIM feedstocks formerly supplied by Honeywell (Honeywell has retained its CIM materials). In addition, Latitude is partnering with RTP Co. (Winona, MN), a leading compounder of advanced injection molding materials, to make its PowderFlo MIM feedstocks.

Paul Stepanoff, Latitude's president and ceo, plans to transform the PowderFlo supply business model to make MIM more attractive to plastics injection molders. A former vp of engineering at a major plastics molder himself, Stepanoff says Latitude will provide free development licenses to injection molders and cut by about half the commercial license fees Honeywell had tagged on to its PowderFlo feedstocks. Technical support services will be bundled with the materials to help newcomers to MIM.

"Over a period of, say, a couple of years, Latitude will provide a licensee fee structure proportional to the yearly feedstock usage of the licensee, one that will include our technical support," Stepanoff says. "Why should molders new to MIM have to do it all on their own and pay for it all by themselves, especially when it comes to understanding powder metallurgy, debinding, and sintering?" Stepanoff asks. "We also plan to ally ourselves with toll sintering houses that we can recommend to customers. This would help get them into production faster, before they have to decide on bringing sintering furnaces in-house," Stepanoff says.

Additionally, Latitude will cut the cost of PowderFlo MIM pellets in half, bringing the cost of PowderFlo stainless steel feedstocks, for instance, to approximately $10/lb, according to Stepanoff. PowderFlo features an environmentally friendly aqueous-gel binder based on agar, which, when combined with water, allows the feedstock to run at relatively low temperatures and pressures, much like a low-viscosity commodity thermoplastic. After the green parts are dried, they can be debound and sintered in the same process, speeding overall cycle times. (For more technical details, see December 1999 IMMC, pp. 21-22).

Timing right for system manufacturer to expand
An industry-wide trend favoring full systems rather than individual components and MIM parts over machined steel has spurred BorgWarner Morse TEC to expand its engine timing system business. The company moved its engine timing operations to a 133,300 sq-ft former industrial facility in Cortland, NY. The plant was renovated to meet BorgWarner's needs. The Cortland operation currently employs 120, but an additional 70 workers will be needed to meet growing customer demand, according to the company. BorgWarner is a global producer of chain systems and components for engine timing, automatic transmissions, and four-wheel drive applications. Clients include Ford, DaimlerChrysler, GM, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

MIMA can help you get started 
Are you a metal or ceramics injection molder, a moldmaker, a supplier of feedstocks or powder materials, or a supplier of primary processing machinery interested in selling to the high-growth MIM marketplace? If so, representatives of the Metal Injection Molding Assn. (MIMA) say a good place to start is membership in its international trade association.

MIMA is one of six trade associations in the Metal Powder Industries Federation (MPIF). MIMA develops technical materials, test method standards, statistics, and survey data. The association also performs public relations and market development services, as well as providing sales leads and management information to its members.

Through the MPIF, MIMA sponsors design seminars for the marketplace, industry-related short courses, and produces educational videos, technical brochures, and product directories. It also supports Internet services and government relations as well as coordinates its standards activities with ASTM and ISO.

MIMA convenes two membership meetings each year and is instrumental in organizing state-of-the-art technical sessions for the MPIF's annual technical conference. Annual corporate membership fees are $3020.

For more information or to find out if you're qualified to join, contact the MPIF (Princeton, NJ) at (609) 452-7700 or sign onto www.mpif.org.

All things PIM on the Web 
ComplexShape.net is a new online resource for designers, engineers, and business professionals who have an interest in powder injection molding. The site offers visitors PIM background information, including frequently asked questions. PIM industry contacts for processing, supplies, and design are also given. Questions can be referred to a group of online PIM experts, and a calendar lists upcoming seminars for the technology. Sample products and applications can also be viewed. The site, which covers metal and ceramic injection molding, is sponsored by the International Powder Injection Molding Alliance.

TXM conference goes for three 
The Third International TXM Magnesium Conference will be held next month, May 22-24, at the Wyndham Bristol Place Hotel in Toronto, ON. In addition to attending presentations on TXM technology and market opportunities with displays of TXM parts, conference attendees also will visit the global HQ of Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. in Bolton, ON. Husky, one of Thixomat's licensed machine builders, plans to formally introduce its first commercial TXM press, a 500-tonner, to attendees. Last year's conference was held in Hiroshima, Japan. You can read about a presentation given there by National/Panasonic on p. 6. For more information go to www.thixomat.com

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