CENTER CITY, Minn.—Smith Metal Products specializes in metal injection molding (MIM) of soft metal alloys and other metals for small electronic and electrical components. Smith Metal’s MIM processes use technology that is built around an automated production process and reported to be well-suited to the fast-changing needs of the telecom and electronics markets.
Parts begin when metal powder is suspended in a binder or feed stock, which is then injection molded into a tool. The part then goes through a debinding and sintering process to form a full dense metal part. Parts are very precise, net-shaped, and can be produced faster than machining, usually with no secondary operations, the company said in a press release.
Smith Metals (www.smithmetals.com) specializes in the manufacture of electrical and electronic components that include high-voltage power connectors, PCB terminal blocks, smart phone components, solenoids, micro switches, heat sinks, and microwave, filter, and switching components, as well as components for NEMA rated enclosures.
The company said that costs for its components are often up to 50 percent less than other part making processes. Fewer setups, coupled with the speed of metal injection molding, can reduce turnaround time from concept to component by weeks, the company added.
Smith Metal Products outlined what it called the “ideal part parameters” for its MIM process. Parts made from a full range of alloy materials—including soft metal, stainless steels, and titanium—are suitable for metal injection molding, the company said. The ideal parts have simple to complicated geometries and a finished part weight of less than 100g (3.5 oz). All dimensions of the component should be 3 inches or less, with a maximum wall thickness of 3mm (0.125 in.) or less.
The annual volume requirement for efficiently produced and priced electrical and electronic components is 10,000 parts or more.
Smith Metal said that program management is a key element in its MIM processes, and one that’s particularly important for part designers. The company’s program management includes complete process engineering, designing and implementing automation, quality assurance, assembly, packaging, product fulfillment, and distribution.