Design Guide

MIM Costs

Competitive Forces

A wide variety of forming routes are available for metals. Thus, competing technologies greatly influence the viability of MIM. Users say that the decision to use MIM over competing technologies usually starts with cost, but includes issues of shape capabilities, productivity, surface finish, and precision. The cost advantage for MIM, versus other forming techniques, increases when it eliminates machining, grinding, or other finishing steps, especially for small components. For large, simple shapes, MIM proves unattractive.

A Comparison of MIM with Other Technologies

Attribute MIM Powder Metallurgy Casting Machining
Density of Theoretical 98% 85% 95 to 99% 100%
Relative Strength 100% 50% 98% 100%
Magnetic Response 100% 70% 95% 98%
Surface Finish 0.8µm / 32 RMS 2µm 3µm 0.2 to 2µm
Wall Thickness 7.5 to 0.1mm 2mm 5mm 2mm
Complexity high Low Medium High
Design Flexibility High Medium Medium Low
Production Rate Med./High Vol. High Volume Low Volume Low Volume
Material Range High Medium Medium Medium
Mass Range 0.003g to 1kg 0.1g to 10kg 1g up 0.1g up

Each technology is best suited to a particular combination of materials, tolerances, sizes, shapes, and properties. For example, casting techniques excel in shape complexity, but lack in surface finish and dimensional precision. At high production quantities, machining techniques suffer from material waste and production costs. Cost is usually the critical parameter in selecting a net- shaping technology.