Powder Metal is a cost effective and efficient process of producing close-tolerance near-net shape parts from various powdered metals. The part is produced in a manner that provides the part with good sintered strength and a smooth surface finish. This process is not the same process that is used to produce PM steels.
The powder metal industry has its roots in the carbon industry. With the development of the electriic motor, there was a need for carbon brushes in the electric motors. Initially, the brushes were machined from carbon blocks. A more efficient means was necessary, so the powdered metal process was born. Powdered carbon was pressed into a form to produce the needed shape of the brush. The industry grew over the past 70 years to provide parts to the automotive, medical, electronics and consumer products industries.
The uses for powdered metal parts are endless. Powder metal parts are found in lawn and garden equipment, recreational equipment, business machines and structural components. The largest volume of powder metal parts are used in hand tools and automobiles. Many hand tools are composed of gears, clutches, couplers and chucks made from PM parts. Modern automobiles contain about 36 pounds of powder metal parts. Some very intricate or complex parts are used for many automobile components. Powder metal parts in automobiles consist of connecting rods in the engine, transmission gears and carriers, exhaust flanges, wiper motors, oil pumps and sensor housings to name a few.
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