Metal Injection Moulding is an innovative technology for manufacturing metallic engineering components of very complex shapes. Its adoption in Europe on an industrial level began around 1988, and its use has since 1991 shown an impressive growth rate of around 50% pa. The current sales turnover for MIM products in Europe is estimated at approximately 15 M ECU.
It is the experience of many sales engineers that the absence of formal acceptance standards for MIM products is creating a difficulty in communication between the producers and the potential users of MIM parts and a serious impediment to a continuing growth of the European MIM industry. The formation of a Thematic Network for the creation of European Standards on MIM materials and products is necessary to prevent nationalisms within Europe and to establish a counterweight to the American and Japanese industries, whose standards would otherwise sooner or later have to be accepted by the European manufacturers.
For the proposed standardization work it is necessary to modify existing standards or work out entirely new ones, as existing standards cannot be directly applied to this new technology. The European Powder Metallurgy Association (EPMA) has neither the required expert knowledge nor the financial or personal resources to carry out such a fundamental project. The objectives of the Exploratory Phase are
- to recruit partners for the Thematic Network, including raw material supplier parts producers, research organizations and end users,
- to define subgroups that will pursue the different topics of standardization independently and in parallel,
- to review existing PM standards and define, which parts can be adopted by MIM
- to define the institutions that will carry out the experimental work,
- to establish a work plan and a full proposal for the Implementation Phase of the Network.
The coordination of the Thematic Network will be subcontracted by the EPMA to Dr Georg Schlieper, an independent consulting engineer with a year-long experience in MIM technology.