Impellers manufactured by Beckett MIM
Sheffield-based William Beckett Plastics has successfully launched a metal injection moulding (MIM) company Beckett MIM, capable of mass producing complex functional parts. As one of the world leading manufacturers of plastic packaging for the cutting tool industry, the company transferred its skills to breakthrough to the metal injection moulding industry. Earlier this year the company won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade for the second time.
The technology used to create parts using MIM is well-known and consists of four main stages: feedstock preparation (metal powder + thermoplastic binder); injection moulding; debinding; and sintering.
Beckett MIM is the only company in the UK to offer small, intricately detailed parts with tight tolerances using Titanium alloys, Inconel alloys, Copper alloys and Tungsten carbides. Stainless, low alloy steels and other metals are also offered. Beckett MIM recently filed a patent for a combined process of MIM, burnishing and thread rolling that produces threads on metal fasteners without using cutting. The process creates a fully dense, lightweight component with optional hollow section and a good grain structure. Furthermore, 100 percent of material is utilised, which is a crucial attribute of this process that is required to offset the high costs for the creation of metal powders, especially for Titanium alloys.
The company has been involved in a Knowledge Transfer Programme with the University of Sheffield (supported by the TSB), which has enabled them to develop the MIM process further and to use the equipment at the Mercury Centre in Sheffield for the debinding and sintering stages. More recently, the company received Regional Growth Funding which will be used to finance the move of Beckett MIM to another location within the Sheffield region and equip it with the necessary machinery to produce larger quantities of components in-house.
Components fabricated by MIM can already be found in aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products and IT markets. Going forwards, Beckett MIM hopes to increase its presence in the aerospace and medical markets. The main challenges associated with this step are the materials standards for the respective industries which are backed by years of tried and tested data. However, this has not deterred the firm as they have completed the necessary steps to prove that MIM metal alloys are comparable to wrought alloys. As a sign of industry’s growing interest in MIM technology, BS ISO 22068:2012 standard for MIM materials has been released.
MIMs market share in the metalworking industry is constantly growing as the shape and material challenges inherent to conventional metalworking technologies are removed. This growth is also enhanced by MIM being an energy efficient technology with no material scrap. Beckett MIM is also working on a number of development projects that will allow them to produce MIM foams with up to 50 percent porosity, and over-moulding or sinter-joining which allows two different materials to be joined together within the process. For more information on Beckett MIM and their capabilities, visit www.BeckettMIM.com.