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New opportunities for the MIM industry


1、 Overview of MIM Technology Roadmap
1. The development history and current situation of wax based systems
Since the industrial application of MIM technology by PARMATECH in the United States in 1973, the MIM industry in the early stage was mainly based on wax based binder systems. Later, Japan also introduced MIM technology from the United States for industry development. The research and industrial application of wax based systems in the United States and Japan have gone through laboratory, pilot, and industrial processes, and have already had mature industrial applications. However, due to the involvement of military technology blockade, the domestic wax based system has been independently researched by relevant universities and research institutes since the mid-1980s. After more than a decade of research, professional companies were established in the late 1990s to attempt industrialization. In terms of technology itself, it is similar to the current wax based system in the United States, but there is a huge gap in the stability of feeding, standardization of production process, and controllability of product quality. It can be said that now laboratory technology is directly applied to industrial production, which will inevitably lead to various problems that cannot be solved in the short term, and this situation cannot be broken through in the short term. In this situation, the experience requirements and problem-solving abilities of technical talents, as well as the cooperation of related equipment personnel, are necessary conditions for a MIM enterprise to achieve normal operation of the company. In addition, the development process of MIM industry in China is relatively short, and there are very few talents who can truly meet the requirements. Therefore, it is difficult for MIM to develop on a large scale using a wax based system in China. This is also the main reason why small MIM companies find it difficult to survive in the market. At present, although a few domestic MIM enterprises have ten years of experience in corporate operation, they are lacking in process control and technological improvement. Even if two or three companies can achieve a production value of over 20 million yuan and generate certain operating profits, they are still operating with immature technology. (For example, using domestically produced low-end sintering equipment supplemented by hydrogen sintering poses significant risks.)
2. The development history and current situation of plastic based systems
The plastic based system is a MIM binder system developed by BASF in Germany in the 1990s, which is different from the wax based system. The characteristics of this formula are no extraction, fast catalytic debonding speed, and small product deformation. This system greatly improves the standardization and production efficiency of MIM process. After solving the above problems, there is a possibility of large-scale development and production line replication.
At present, compared to the plastic based system, apart from the differences in raw materials, there are significant development advantages in other aspects. According to the characteristics of the MIM product market, using plastic based feeding in the production of most MIM products can improve production efficiency and improve product yield, which can digest the cost difference of raw materials.
It is understood that apart from Guangdong's Liqiang and Xintai companies, as well as Beijing Jiarun's self mixing of plastic based feed, other enterprises basically directly purchase BASF's imported feed. There is a certain gap in the performance of self mixing plastic feed compared to BASF feed.
Plastic based feed degreasing adopts nitric acid catalytic degreasing method. This catalytic degreasing furnace is not only professionally produced by CREMER company in Germany, but also developed by some domestic manufacturers themselves, which can basically meet production requirements in terms of usage effect.
Next, as more and more MIM companies adopt plastic based feeding, the stability of domestically produced plastic based feeding will tend to stabilize. The next step in the development of MIM enterprises based on self mixing wax based feed will lag behind MIM enterprises that use plastic based feed in terms of technical route.
2、 Investment Analysis of MIM Production Line
The wax based binder system and plastic based binder system currently used in the MIM industry have their own characteristics. If different technical routes are selected, the following comparison can be made:
1. Select wax based system (i.e. domestic wax based binder system)
1.1. Low raw material cost: The price for general iron-based and stainless steel feed materials is generally 0.1 yuan/gram.
1.2 Equipment investment amount (taking domestic equipment as an example)
(Main equipment investment with an annual production capacity of 20 tons and an output value of 10 million yuan)
1 set of mixing equipment, 4 injection machines, 1 extraction equipment, 4 debonding furnaces, 3 degreasing vacuum furnaces, and 1 ammonia decomposition facility, with an investment of approximately 2 million yuan.
1.3. Process: Currently, the United States, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan all use wax based systems internationally. However, this process has a low degree of standardization and many uncontrollable factors. Only by systematically solving these factors can stable feeding be formed. Currently, domestic enterprises mainly mix and mix materials themselves, and the stability of their feeding is very unstable. It can be said that the standardization level is low and the reproducibility of the process is poor.
1.4. High requirements are placed on the MIM industry experience and problem-solving ability of production technicians.
1.5. Low production efficiency and long new product development cycle (if the mold is outsourced, the new product development cycle is approximately 45 to 60 days). The mass production cycle of the product is about 7-15 days.
2. Select plastic based system (i.e. adhesive system developed by BASF in Germany)
2.1. High raw material costs: The price of iron based and stainless steel feed materials is generally 0.25-0.30 yuan/gram.
2.2. Low equipment investment amount
(Main equipment investment with an annual production capacity of 20 tons and an output value of 10 million yuan)
4 injection machines, 3 acid removal furnaces, 3 degreasing vacuum furnaces (domestic mid-range), and 1 nitrogen making machine
2.3. The standardization level of the process is relatively high, and there are fewer uncontrollable factors.
2.4. The requirement for technical personnel's MIM industry experience and problem-solving ability is relatively low, and the standard level of process and operation is high, with strong replicability. The requirement for technical personnel's industry experience is relatively low.
2.5. High production efficiency and short new product development cycle (if the mold is outsourced, the new product development cycle is about 20-30 days). The mass production cycle of the product is about 3-6 days, and it is shipped in batches.
3、 Introduction to Foreign Sintering Equipment
1. German CREMER sintering equipment
Mainly using continuous trial MIM-MASTER furnaces, supplemented by elevated atmosphere furnaces. The uniformity of its internal temperature field is controlled within ± 5 ℃. The MIM-MASTER sintering equipment is suitable for large-scale production of MIM products on production lines (single variety, large batch), and is temporarily not suitable for most small MIM enterprises in China. Elevated atmosphere furnaces are suitable for small and medium-sized production. However, CREMER mainly promotes MIM-MASTER equipment, so it is difficult for small and medium-sized MIM enterprises in China to choose this type of equipment in the short term. MIM enterprises with larger scale investments (equipment investment of over 20 million yuan, total project investment of over 30 million yuan) are suitable to choose this type of equipment. Large scale and high efficiency are the ultimate development path for MIM enterprises, so companies like Swiss SWATCH Watch and Panyu Changlian use MIM-MASTER as their main production equipment.
2. Shimadzu MIM sintering furnace in Japan
This equipment is suitable for batch production and is more suitable for enterprises with multiple varieties and non large batch MIM product structures.
Since Shimadzu established a domestic factory in Ningbo in 2006, the sales price of MIM sintering furnaces in Japan has become more suitable for domestic needs, except for over 30% of the original sales price of over 3 million yuan per unit. The temperature field of the equipment can be controlled within ± 5 ℃, and the internal control index of the enterprise is generally ± 3 ℃. For MIM enterprises with medium to large-sized investments (equipment investment of over 10 million yuan, total project investment of over 15 million yuan), it is suitable to choose such equipment.
Of course, if the market positioning is reasonable and the investment scale allows, combining CERMER MIM-MASTER and Shimadzu vacuum furnace for combined investment may be a more suitable investment method.
Keywords: MIM metal injection molding MIM processing metal injection molding parts powder injection molding metal injection molding metal injection molding metal powder injection molding Yujiaxin