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Powder Injection Molded Ceramic Microsystems
Keywords: microchannel, injection molding, microsystem
Microsystem technologies have propelled the development of micro and multi-scale manufacturing techniques for more than a decade. Among these techniques, micro powder injection molding (micro PIM) is drawing attention recently as one of the most cost-effective processes suitable for medium and mass production of micro components. While injection molding is a well established and widely used process technology for shaping polymeric materials, micro PIM is a relative new process for producing ceramic and metallic products. Recent breakthroughs in development include submicron size powders, new binder systems, special micro injection tools, and new machines creating miniature parts with dimensions < 1 mm. However, there is still a gap between scientific studies for the fundamental understanding the technology and the needs from the industry practice of powder injection molding for microsystems. In particular, understanding material homogeneity is a critical one because it causes various common molding defects in ceramic PIM parts, especially in micro parts. The issue becomes more prominent for micro PIM because of the small particle sizes and fast mold flow velocity for filling. Small and irregular-shaped particles tend to form agglomerates in feedstock mixture. The fast mold filling may cause more particles to migrate because of the increased shear rate gradient in cavity. This paper presents an in-depth study on the material homogeneity issue in ceramic microchannel arrays at both macroscale (short shot) and microscopic (binder/powder separation) levels, based on newly developed experimental and simulation platforms for PIM.
Sundar V. Atre, Associate Professor in Manufacturing
Oregon State University
Corvallis, OR

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