Economic Considerations for Powder Metallurgy Structural Parts

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Economic Considerations for Powder Metallurgy Structural Parts

The vast majority of Powder Metallurgy structural part applications are based on the winning of a cost competition against other routes for forming the same component shape.

energy_consumption_comparis

Fig. 1 Material consumption and material

wastage of metal manufacturing processes.

(Data source: EPMA, Shrewsbury, UK)

In turn, Powder Metallurgy’s cost competitiveness against other technologies is based on two major issues – lower energy consumption in the process and superior utilisation of the starting raw material.

There are a number of considerations that determine whether a component application might be a viable target for Powder Metallurgy:

The competitive position of Powder Metallurgy against other technologies, in terms of both material utilisation factors and energy consumption rates, is demonstrated in Fig.1. As shown in this figure, the typical Powder Metallurgy material utilisation of 95% of the original raw material is superior to any of the competing processes.

For applications that satisfy the above requirements as viable targets for Powder Metallurgy, the benefits of the technology in process energy saving can be demonstrated by citing some case study examples.

Case study 1: Notch segment

A notch segment from a commercial vehicle transmission, conventionally produced by machining from steel barstock, showed an energy saving advantage for Powder Metallurgy of 1.24 kWh (4.46 MJ) per piece versus 2.85 kWh (10.3 MJ) per piece (a 57% saving), see tables 1 and 2 below.

Notch_segment

 

Table 1 (top) and table 2 (lower) comparing the energy consumption between conventional
machining and Powder Metallurgy production

 

Case study 2: High volume oil pump gear

A high volume passenger car oil pump gear, conventionally produced by finish machining a forged blank, showed an energy saving advantage for Powder Metallurgy of 0.14 kWh (0.50 MJ) per piece versus 0.28 kWh (1.01 MJ) per piece (a 50% saving) (Tables 3 and 4).

Case_study_High

Tables 3 (top) and 4 (lower) giving the energy advantages of Powder Metallurgy production of a HIGH volume oil pump gear.


 

Case study 3: Low volume oil pump gear

A lower volume commercial vehicle oil pump gear, conventionally produced by machining, showed an energy saving advantage for PM of 1.57 kWh (5.65 MJ) per piece versus 2.62 kWh (9.43 MJ) per piece (a 40% saving) (Tables 5 and 6, below).

Powder_Metallurgy_Case_Stud

Table 5 (top) and table 6 (lower) giving the energy advantages of Powder Metallurgy production of a LOW volume oil pump gear

 

Energy in the starting material
The energy consumption comparisons in Tables 1-6 relate to the forming processes themselves and do not include the relative “embedded” energy in the starting material. Powder Metallurgy has a further advantage here. The energy requirement to produce 1 tonne of press-ready atomised iron powder is around 10 GJ, compared with around 14GJ to produce 1 tonne of steel barstock for machining.

Taking the typical material utilisation factors for the two routes from Fig. 1, the embedded energy in the raw material to produce 1 kg of finished products is around 10.5 MJ for Powder Metallurgy processing as opposed to  around 28-35 MJ for machining from barstock.

The potential cost advantages of Powder Metallurgy are demonstrated for the commercial vehicle oil pump gear in Table 7. For this application, Powder Metallurgy was estimated as saving around 68% of the total costs of the machined product.

Cost_analyses_for_commecial
Table 7  Costing analyses for commercial vehicle oil pump gear 

 

The estimated cost saving advantages for Powder Metallurgy in a range of other automotive applications are shown in Table 8.

PM_Cost_advantage

Table 8  The estimated cost saving advantages for Powder Metallurgy



 

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