A Portuguese technological research centre offers its Ceramic Injection Moulding ? Manufacturing technology for advanced ceramic components
The Portuguese private technological research centre has been developing the technology of Ceramic Injection Moulding (CIM) technology which combines the potential of the plastic injection moulding and sintering processes applied to the production of advanced ceramic components. CIM production process is composed by feedstock compounding, injection moulding, debinding and sintering. Compounding is optional as there are commercial feedstock suppliers available in the market.
In that process, a quantity of a polymeric binder is combined with a ceramic powder to form a composite mixture that can be moulded under heating (feedstock). In the single forming stage ? by thermoplastic injection moulding - moulding machines and moulds like those used for plastics are used. The biggest difference is the oversizing of the moulding cavities of about of 20-30% due to the presence of the binder, to compensate the shrinkage during the sintering process. As in plastics, moulds have multiple cavities, inserts, taps and feeding systems. In the next step, moulded parts are submitted to a process of binder removing (debinding) while remaining their shape. Depending on the chemical composition of the polymeric binder, a specific debinding method is used - the most used are thermal degradation, catalytic depolymerization or solvent extraction. Then, the parts go for sintering, which is the process where the particles are combined by ?semi-melting?, at a high temperature, developing the final mechanical properties of the corresponding dense ceramic. The components produced by sintering can compete with the properties of wrought materials, in part, due to the minimal residual porosity and the fine microstructure formed.
Depending on the part specification, the sintered parts can be submitted to finishing processes, such as grinding, hard machining or surface polishing.
CIM application market is wide and it is directed toward the search and development of new products where, almost always, the limit is creativity. For instance, it is used to make component redesign, with the subtraction of material, creating economic added value or weight reduction, or the design of mono-component multifunctional systems, previously consisting of several parts.The fields of application of the components manufactured by CIM are diverse, being in constant evolution.
The most significant fields of application are:
- casting cores
- mechanical systems
- instrumentation and sensors
- electronics and communications
- watchmaking and jewellery
- consumer goods
The CIM technology offered is well developed to be commercially exploited. The technology provider has developed know-how and offers it together with processing equipment. It is available for prototype production for technology validation, as well as for any other kind of contact, mostly prior to technology transfer.
They are looking for cooperation under a manufacturing and/or joint venture and/or commercial agreement with technical assistance.Advantages & innovations Cooperation plus value: CIM technology stands out from others in the production of technical ceramics components that combine a high complexity in design and is intended to the production of large series, at a competitive cost. As a technique for producing parts in the final form, it also has the advantage of lower material losses.Engineering teams can develop complex shape components almost without restrictions, with dimensions accuracy, superior surface finish and piece-by-piece reproducibility by using CIM technology. Otherwise using traditional manufacturing methods, complex components would have to be produced by green or hard machining operations, which adds costs to the process. With CIM technology, multiple design details can be formed using a single forming step. Injection moulding has proven to be one of the most economical forming technologies in use, offering significant cost savings compared to processes such as machining or casting.Possible materials to be used for CIM manufactured parts are alumina (aluminium oxide), zirconia (zirconium oxide), zirconia toughened alumina, steatite, as well as other oxide ceramics. Typical application is wear resistant, chemical resistant or refractory applications. Aesthetics applications is also envisioned because of high polishing possibility and coloured ceramics. Stage of development Cooperation stage dev stage: Already on the market Partner sought Cooperation area: The Portuguese research centre is looking for an industrial company working in possible MIM parts markets, usually working already in advanced ceramics or injection moulded plastics parts production.It is looking for potential partnerships, namely under:? a manufacturing agreement - It offers the technology: know-how and/or equipment resources to industrial manufacturing enterprises and the partner would use their facilities during the manufacturing process; ? and/ or joint venture agreement - jointly with the partner they?ll create a new entity to develop the project;? and/ or commercial agreement with technical assistance - It is expected that the partner is able to purchase the technology offered in order to sell metal parts to its customers, i.e,. the research centre offers their technology to be purchased, and also technical support to the technology transfer in order to proceed to technology exploitation. Type and size Cooperation task: SME 11-50,SME 500 MNE,251-500,SME 51-250,>500