The sophisticated metallurgy of powdered metal
Metalworking is a field that has undergone eons of changes and yet still remains a crucial part of everyday life. Today, techniques are far more sophisticated than those of our ancestors, yet they still retain the same basic function: to customize the shape and properties of metals so they can perform in specific and sometimes unique ways.
To that end, no process is quite as effective as powder metallurgy. Through careful combinations of metal powders, heat, pressure and other factors, powdered metal manufacturers are able to produce a wide array of pieces. These parts are durable enough to withstand end use but inexpensive enough to provide a cost-effective solution. For this reason, powdered metals can be the preferred choice for companies that use metal components.
As for how to know which powdered metal supplier offers the best product? Much of that information can be gleaned through the equipment used. Here are three things to look for:
1. In-house testing procedures
No one knows how to ensure powdered metal quality like the producer itself. By holding themselves to rigorous standards, the best powdered metal suppliers can guarantee parts' quality before the product leaves the plant. But that testing doesn't only extend to the finished product - the raw material must first undergo close scrutiny to make sure it's of the highest possible quality. Metal powder is not the stuff swept up off the floor, it's a high-grade powder made from metal cores.
2. Access to the best technology available
Just because a manufacturer has excellent testing practices doesn't mean the equipment used is capable of reading the most granular details. On the other hand, regarding powdered metal manufacturers with access to state-of-the-art equipment like a metallograph microscope, stereoscope, scanning electron microscope (SEM), density scale and carbon analyzer, one can be certain the level of testing done is high-caliber. Plus, some of the top producers have access to engineering laboratories at universities, which adds another dimension to their capabilities.
3. Sophisticated tooling techniques
The process through which these precision parts are fine-tuned is just as important as any other step in the creation of a reliable product. That's why it is crucial for a powdered metal parts manufacturer to use only the best machining methods and equipment around. These include the CNC Mill, Mori Seike CNC Lathe, Electronic Discharge Machines and others complex tools.
All of this is doesn't suggest that anyone with access to this equipment can turn out fine powdered metal parts. The tool is only as good as its operator. In that regard, the top powdered metal producers use the best of both worlds - top-of-the-line machinery and facilities paired with a team of experts across the board. Not only do these men and women know how to create an excellent part from powdered metal, they also have the tools to do so.