Education & Training

Powder Metallurgy Technology

What is Powder Metallurgy?

Powder Metallurgy - or P/M - is a highly developed method of manufacturing reliable ferrous and nonferrous parts. Made by mixing elemental or alloy powders and compacting the mixture in a die, the resultant shapes are then sintered or heated in a controlled-atmosphere furnace to bond the particles metallurgically. Basically a "chipless" metalworking process, P/M typically uses more than 97% of the starting raw material in the finished part. Because of this, P/M is an energy and materials conserving process.

The P/M process is cost effective in producing simple or complex parts at, or very close to, final dimensions in production rates which can range from a few hundred to several thousand parts per hour. As a result, only minor, if any, machining is required. P/M parts also may be sized for closer dimensional control and /or coined for both higher density and strength. Most P/M parts weigh less than 5 pounds (2.27 kg), although parts weighing as much as 35 pounds (15.89 kg) can be fabricated in conventional P/M equipment. Many of the early P/M parts , such as bushings and bearings, were very simple shapes, as contrasted with the complex contours and multiple levels which are often produced economically today.

Advantages of the P/M Process

  • Eliminates or minimizes machining
  • Eliminates of minimizes scrap losses
  • Maintains close dimensional tolerances
  • Permits a wide variety of alloy systems
  • Produces good surface finishes
  • Provides materials which may be heat-treated for increased strength or increased wear resistance
  • Provides controlled porosity for self-lubrication or filtration
  • Facilitates manufacture of complex or unique shapes which would be impractical or impossible with other metalworking processes
  • Suited to moderate to high volume component production requirements
  • Offers long-term performance reliability in critical applications
  • Cost effective