3D Printing Releases Powder Metallurgy Market Potential

According to "Perspective of Advanced Manufacturing," powder metallurgy is a technology that performs metal forming processes by heating and compacting metal powders to below their melting point. This technology has existed for more than 100 years and has been recognized as a variety of production for the past 25 years. High-quality technology for high-quality parts. Compared to other metal forming technologies such as forging and casting, this technology has advantages in terms of material utilization, shape complexity, and near-net-shape control because it promotes sustainable development. The nature of powder metallurgy is recognized as green technology.

1 Powder metallurgy - the preferred forming process for cost-effective parts

According to different formulations, the tensile strength of powder metallurgy parts is between 170 and 1200 MPa. Compared with the traditional parts manufacturing technology, the following advantages are achieved: 1) The parts are close to the final size, have a good finish, and reduce the subsequent processing cost. Reduce the loss of waste products; 2) Be able to produce complex or uniquely shaped parts that cannot be manufactured by other processes; 3) Be able to control the porosity of products to meet the requirements of self-lubrication, wear resistance, etc. Compared to traditional machining cutting Process, powder metallurgy energy-saving 60%, material utilization rate of up to 95%, is an excellent choice for cost-effective components. Also as an additive forming manufacturing process, becoming an important part of China manufacturing 2025.

2 The global market size is 8 billion U.S. dollars, and the leading GKN powder metallurgy revenue is over 10 billion RMB.

According to the global powder metallurgy leading GKN company, in 2016, global powder metallurgy products had sales of approximately US$8 billion. GKN is a leading company in the powder metallurgy field. Its products include automotive engines, gearboxes, pumps, bodies, and chassis. Compressors, metal injection molding and other components. GKN powder metallurgy operating income has been maintained at about 1.4 billion US dollars for the last five years, and operating profit margin has also stabilized at about 10%. According to the use, 72% of total sales revenue of auto parts. , accounting for 85% of the sales of powder metallurgy parts.

3 The domestic automobile industry is relatively low, with more than 20 billion market space still needs to be developed

At present, the average amount of powder metallurgical products per vehicle in China is only about 5kg, which is much lower than the 14kg in Europe and 19.5kg in the United States. On the other hand, in 2016, the proportion of China's domestic auto powder metallurgy products in the total powder metallurgy products increased to approximately 60%, but still far lower than 80% of developed countries. At the same time, the types of automotive powder metallurgy products in China are not complete. Currently, they are mainly used in connecting rods, gaskets and other low-tech products, and the technical requirements are more High VVT, VCT, planetary gears, etc. Due to high technical barriers, most enterprises in China cannot mass produce. Powder metallurgy is mainly applied in the two fields of engine and gearbox in automobiles. Assume that the sales of passenger cars reached 3,000 in 2020. Million, the market size of engine powder metallurgy parts and components is about 4 billion yuan, and the market size of gearbox powder metallurgy parts and components is about 15 billion yuan. Together with powder metallurgy parts used in automobile chassis, the domestic automobile powder metallurgy market has a space of 20 billion yuan. .

-- Powder metallurgy application process

Powder metallurgy includes traditional methods, metal injection molding (MIM), metal 3D printing (AM), and isostatic pressing (IP). Among them, the most widely used ones in the automotive and other fields are the traditional method and the MIM method. The required raw materials, powder metallurgy mixed powders, are available in two types, premixed powders from powder blenders and powder suppliers.

- Metal injection molding (MIM)

This process offers the possibility of producing complex shaped parts, using fine metal powders (usually less than 20 microns), and custom binders (various thermoplastics, waxes, etc.) as raw materials, into the cavity (or multiple chambers) ) for injection molding.

MIM process is very similar to plastic injection molding and high pressure die casting. It can produce the same shape and structural characteristics. However, this is limited to relatively small (generally less than 250 g), highly complex parts, otherwise it requires a lot of finishing or assembly operations .

The parts produced by the metal injection molding process have almost the same mechanical properties as forged materials, providing almost unlimited shape and geometric features, and a very high production rate.

- Isostatic pressure (IP)

Suitable for powder compact parts with equal pressure in all directions to achieve maximum density and uniform microstructure and no uniaxial compression geometry. Used for producing dense high-performance parts.

The isostatic pressure is classified into cold and hot isostatic pressing, the cold isostatic pressing (CIP) is compacting the 'green parts' at room temperature, and the hot isostatic pressing (HIP) passes through the solid diffusion to consolidate the parts at high temperatures, heat, etc. Static pressure can also be used to eliminate the residual porosity of sintered powder metallurgy parts.

- 3D printing

Metallic 3D printing includes direct metal 3D printing and indirect metal 3D printing.

Metal powder bed melting (PBF) is currently the most widely used metal 3D printing technology. Including last year GE invested 1.4 billion US dollars to purchase Concept Laser and Arcam, further strengthening the market attention of metal powder bed melting. PBF is considered to be a A direct metal 3D printing technology, including laser melting and electron beam melting, is currently being used more widely. In this field, many brands are active, including the Concept Laser and Arcam acquired by GE, including The original metal 3D printing solutions include EOS in Germany, SLM Solutions in Germany, Renishaw in the United Kingdom, and TRUMPF, a machine tool manufacturer that entered the PBF field, and Demagensin Seiki.

There is also a direct metal 3D printing technology (LENS - directional energy deposition technology) is another application of metallurgical powder technology.

The indirect metal 3D printing technology, as the name implies, means that the metal parts obtained through the metal 3D printing process are not the final parts, but need to remove the chemical substances in the metal parts through the heat treatment process of the high temperature furnace to obtain dense Metal parts.

Of course, the current indirect metal 3D printing technology includes a variety of different technologies. According to the market research of 3D Science Valley, a large class is based on the binder jetting technology represented by Desktop Metal, 3DEO, Markforged, and the other is the NanoParticle represented by Xjet. Jetting technology, the third category is Prodways resin indirect body of metal 3D printing technology, the fourth category is Hewlett-Packard will launch the metal 3D printing technology. And GE will also launch the metal parts of the adhesive spray 3D printing equipment.

-- Powder metallurgy preparation

The pulverizing equipment is applied to the raw material milling process. The pulverizing methods can be divided into three major categories: mechanical milling, physical milling, and chemical milling. The commonly used milling methods include oxide reduction, atomization, and rotating electrode method. , Electrolysis and mechanical crushing methods, etc., The equipment used for different milling methods are also different. According to different methods of milling, the main equipment used includes reduction furnace, ion membrane electrolyzer, ball mill and so on.

-- Powder metallurgy application market

Powder metallurgy parts are widely used and can be divided into two major categories: The first is the parts that are difficult to manufacture by other methods, such as tungsten, molybdenum or tungsten carbide. In addition, oil-bearings, filters and many types of hard Soft magnetic components are produced using powder metallurgy technology. The second category is to provide a cost-effective alternative for castings and forgings, such as automotive clutch plates, connecting rods, camshafts, planetary gear carriers, etc.

Powder metallurgy products are widely used in the automotive industry, aerospace industry, home appliance industry and consumer electronics industry. Among them, the automotive industry and aerospace industry are high-end markets with high added value. At present, China's domestic powder metallurgy enterprises mainly produce home appliances. Powder metallurgy products in the consumer electronics industry. The powder metallurgy products in the household appliance industry mainly include refrigerators, compressors used in air conditioning, washing machines, porous self-lubricating bearings used in electric fans, air conditioners, gears and magnets in vacuum cleaners, etc.; consumer electronics, Many mobile phone brand metal casings, volume buttons, footrests, SIM card holders and other parts are powder metallurgy products. However, the household appliances and consumer electronics industry, powder metallurgy technology threshold is low, all kinds of small and medium-sized manufacturers compete to enter, leading to domestic The low-end powder metallurgy market is very competitive.

The automotive industry is the main application area, accounting for about 70%. Other important markets include entertainment, home appliances, industrial motors and controls, hardware and business machines, etc. In 2016, China's domestic automotive powder metallurgy products accounted for the proportion of total powder metallurgy products Up to about 60%, but still lower than the proportion of 80% in developed countries. At the same time, the types of automotive powder metallurgy products in our country are not complete. Currently, there are some links, gaskets, sprockets, etc. The vast majority of companies cannot mass-produce VVTs, VCTs, planetary gears, and other products that require higher technology.

Powder metallurgy automotive parts are mainly used in two major categories of vehicles: engines, transmissions/transfer cases. According to MPIF (Powder Metal Industry Federation) statistics, powder metallurgy parts are used in more than 300 individual automotive parts. , The total number of parts exceeds 750. Considering the factors of energy saving and emission reduction and cost control, domestic enterprises will use the powder metallurgy process to produce automobile parts in the future.

Automotive engines and gearboxes are the two most widely used fields for powder metallurgy parts. In these two fields, the market size of engine powder metallurgy parts and components is about 4 billion yuan, and the market size of gearbox powder metallurgy parts and components is about 15 billion yuan. Coupled with powder metallurgy parts used in car chassis, the domestic auto powder metallurgy market has reached 20 billion yuan.

- Engine powder metallurgy market scale is about 4 billion

In the field of automobile engines, an average of two engine variable timing valves (VVT) is used on a passenger car, and its unit price is about 70 yuan, that is, the value of each vehicle is 140 yuan/vehicle, which is issued by Zhiyan Consulting. The "2017-2022 China Automotive Market Operational Situation and Investment Strategy Report" predicts that China's passenger vehicle sales will reach 30 million units by 2020, and VVT manufactured using powder metallurgy technology will have a development space of about 4.2 billion yuan.

- Gearbox powder metallurgy market scale is about 15 billion

In the automotive transmission field, automotive transmissions are divided into four major categories, manual transmissions (MTs), which account for about 45% of the market, automatic transmissions (ATs) that account for 30% of the market, and continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) that account for 15% of the market share. The clutch (DCT) accounts for 10% of the market share, of which the AT and DCT markets are developing rapidly with more opportunities. The CVT market has less opportunities for powder metallurgy.

The price of powder metallurgy parts used in single MT, AT, CVT and DCT gearbox is about 500 yuan, 600 yuan, 200 yuan and 500 yuan respectively. By 2020, the sales volume of passenger cars in China is expected to reach 30 million, assuming various types of transmission market. With the same share, the number of MT, AT, CVT, and DCT gearboxes was 13.5 million, 9 million, 4.5 million, and 3 million, respectively. The total market space for powder metallurgy components in transmissions totals about 15 billion yuan.

If the powder metallurgy industry can achieve technological breakthroughs, and strength, wear resistance and other indicators to further enhance, then the combination of gears, transmission gears and other traditional forging parts are expected to be replaced by powder metallurgy parts, the market scale will further expand the expansion.

-- Powder Metallurgy Market

According to calculation by GKN, in 2016, global sales of powder metallurgy products were approximately US$8 billion. Among them, the company’s total sales of the top ten sales were approximately US$4.5 billion, and its market share was approximately 60%. The top ten companies Among them, five companies are European companies, four companies are Japanese companies, and one company is an American company. GKN is the industry leader. In 2016, its powder department sales amounted to 1.03 billion pounds (1.4 billion US dollars), market share. About 18%, much higher than the second 9% of Sumitomo Electric's market share.

According to statistics from China Powder Association, the powder metallurgy branch in China produced 480,000 tons of powder metallurgy parts in 2016, with sales of 6.4 billion yuan, of which the automobile industry had sales of 4 billion yuan, accounting for 62% of the total sales. In 2017, the powder metallurgy market The scale is expected to reach 6.9 billion, achieving stable growth.

GKN is a leading company in the field of powder metallurgy. It has the largest sales scale and the most complete product range. It has a good reference in the field of powder metallurgy. GKN powder metallurgy consists of two parts: GKN Sinter Metals and Hoeganaes. GKN Sinter Metals It is an industry leader in powder metallurgy forming parts. Its market share is the highest in the world. Products include powder metallurgy parts for automotive engines, gearboxes, pumps, bodywork, chassis, compressors, and powder metallurgy bearings and filters. Metal injection molding components, powder metallurgy components for other industrial applications, and soft magnetic components for electric motors. Hoeganaes is a company that GKN specializes in providing high quality metal powders. Its products include iron powder, copper powder, tungsten powder, titanium powder. Such metal powders are widely used in powder metallurgy, chemical and welding industries. Its market share is second in the world.

In 2016, GKN's powder metallurgy sector generated revenue of US$1.4 billion. Of these, Sinter Metals contributed US$1.17 billion in revenue, accounting for 83.6% of total revenue; Hoeganaes contributed US$230 million in revenue, accounting for 16.4% of total revenue. Major customers include Ford, General Motors, Schaeffler, BorgWarner and many other well-known car companies and auto parts companies.