Ready-for-use parts in a single stepWith Liquidmetal, Engel is presenting an alternative to metal injection moulding (MIM) and CNC processing, which provide ready-to-use parts with a very high surface quality in a single step and in short cycles.
In CNC-processing, individual metal components are machined out of a metal block, for example by milling, drilling, grinding and turning. In this way, complex three-dimensional precision parts with a high-quality surface finish can be produced. In comparison to injection moulding, however, this is a very time- and cost-intensive fabrication process.
The MIM process is also an injection moulding procedure, however, the materials processed are not metal alloys, but rather metal/plastic powders. The plastic is removed thermally after injection moulding and the finished component is obtained by a sintering process. Furthermore, the surface is often rough from the sintering process and may require reworking. These additional process steps may take up a lot of time depending on wall thickness.
All these disadvantages are eliminated by the Liquidmetal technology. It provides highly efficient and economical ready-to-install precision components with a very high surface finish quality. The cycle times lie between two and three minutes and are thus significantly shorter than the processing time needed for CNC processing. Another advantage is that there is no waste accumulated in Liquidmetal processing because the sprues can be recycled.
From medical technology to aerospaceEngel sees good potential for Liquidmetal Technology in the field of medical technology, which is why at the Engel Symposium parts for medical forceps will be produced from a Liquidmetal alloy. Endoprostheses like hip joints or stents are also conceivable. Thanks to the excellent mechanical properties of the material, very robust components can also be achieved with very low wall thickness. Furthermore, there is a broad range of application in the fields of electronics, aerospace, military technology and sports equipment. It has already found a first area of application in the entertainment electronics and watch industries.
The licenses for the new method are obtained from Liquidmetal Technologies. Engel delivers injection moulding solutions to licensed partners.
For individual presentations and initial sampling a Liquidmetal machine is available at the technology centre at Engel headquarters in Schwertberg, Austria.