Powdered Metal Components for the Automotive Industry

Powder metallurgy uses a powdered form of a metal such as iron, brass, or steel to create unique components that are difficult to create using traditional molding methods like melting. Sintering transforms the powdered metal into its solid form. Today, manufacturers in the automotive industry choose powder metallurgy for various reasons, including cost-effectiveness, application versatility, part-to-part uniformity, and shape and material flexibility.

With powder metallurgy, manufacturers have more control over the design, shape, and porosity of end components. Miniature automotive components have some of the tightest tolerances on the market today. They are also functional, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing.

Uses and Applications of Miniature Components in the Automotive Industry

Miniature auto parts have many uses and applications in the automotive industry. This is partly due to the favorable cost and the component properties both in respect to complex shape, desirable physical properties, and precision. Uses of powdered metal parts for automotive applications include:

  • Sintering: Complex components and shapes, like those found in engines, can be produced in large quantities using sintering. Sintering allows for a high level of dimensional accuracy, lower weight, and reliable replicability than what is achievable using solid components.
  • Soldering: Metal powders are also used for soft soldering at low temperatures to produce computer chips and circuit boards with surface-mounted technology. Additionally, higher temperature soldering is used for condensers in AC systems. Solder powder is easy to apply and saves on resources.
  • 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing: It is considerably cheaper, quicker, and easier to develop prototypes and test new ideas using additive manufacturing techniques than traditional methods. 

Applications of miniature components include:

Minivan Door Clutch Assembly

This component system facilitates the motor drives for automatic closing tailgates and sliding doors in minivans. The assembly consists of 4 parts with high-tensile strength, which include: 

  • AGMA 8 pinion gear
  • Rotor & Armature with posts and fine pitch matching tooth geometry
  • Hybrid Low Alloy sintered steel

Shift-by-Wire Actuator

A shift-by-wire actuator is an assembly that allows for smooth shifting in automatic transmissions. This assembly consists of the following components and features:

  • Trigger Arms and Links
  • Compound AGMA 8 gears
  • Sinter-Hardened Nickel Steel
  • 100% Non-Destructive Tested
  • 300 Stainless Steel Couplings

Brake System Balancing Weight

Used in high-performance vehicles such as race cars, this braking system triples the fatigue life of brake rotors while simultaneously keeping drag low by decreasing temperatures and vibration. This brake system offers the following advantages:

  • Sized for improved material properties
  • Extremely tight geometric tolerances (above industry standards, i.e. miniature parts)
  • Multiple versions from a single toolset (with same die profiles)

Four Wheel Drive Shifting

This assembly is often found in trucks and SUVs. It uses a planetary gear system to facilitate the transition from 2- to 4-wheel drive. The gear system includes the following:  

  • Output Carrier with molded posts and internal ANSI involute spline
  • 16 AGMA 8 Planet Gears
  • Hybrid Low Alloy Sintered Steel
  • HI-IMPAC Copper-Infiltrated Sintered Steel

Additional applications

Miniature components are essential in nearly every facet of automotive manufacturing. They can be found in the following vehicle systems:

  • Electronics
  • HVAC
  • Powertrain
  • Sealants (PM is porous unless parts are sealed or plated)
  • Thermal management

Benefits of Miniature Components for Automotive Industry

The use of powdered metal in creating metal components boasts a range of benefits for the automotive industry. It provides lower tool costs when matched to other metal forming processes. That’s because the process reduces the general machining of products and parts. Powdered metal also minimizes scrap losses as it can use over 97% of the starting raw materials in the end product.

The process can produce components and parts with unique or complex shapes, good surface finish, increased strength, controlled porosity, and reliable wear resistance. Powdered metal components provide long-lasting performance reliability. Benefits of miniature components for the automotive industry include:

  • Saves on costs compared to CNC and MIM
  • Collaborative creative tooling design
  • More than 10 million PM sintered metal parts for the auto industry annually
  • Uses lean manufacturing techniques
  • Components have high-tolerance capability that’s suitable for automotive use
  • Complex automotive components for instrumentation systems, brake systems, airbag safety restraints, Shift-by-Wire, shock absorbers, seating, fuel monitoring, and exhaust systems.

Work with Allied Sinterings, Inc.

Since 1959, Allied Sinterings, Inc. has been a leading manufacturer of custom-engineered powder metal products. We’re proud of our long-standing business relationships and the reputation we’ve built as a consistently reliable manufacturer of high-quality precision parts.

We provide premium quality and tight-tolerance, fine-pitched powdered metal gears and we manufacture and assemble small planetary gear drives. All of our products are backed by our ISO 9001:2015-certified quality management system.

If you are looking for powdered metal components for small applications, we can help. Contact us today to get started.

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