Austrian injection moulding machine manufacturer Engel and German technology company Heraeus have joined forces to mass produce injection-moulded components from amorphous metal.
As part of the partnership, the two companies are using zirconium-based Amloy alloys and copper-based amorphous materials provided by Heraeus, to injection mould parts for a range of industries including automotive, aerospace, medical and electronics. Amloy is a new line of amorphous metal alloys that are optimised for injection moulding, amongst others.
A pilot phase has been successfully completed and the two companies will symbolically kick off mass production during the Hannover Messe 2019, 1-5 April, Engel announced 5 March.
A live demonstration of the fully automatic process will be running at Engel's stand - E32 in Hall 3 - at the Hannover Messe 2019, where the company's newly developed AMM injection moulding machine from the hydraulic victory series will produce Amloy screwdriver bits.
The injection speed is 1,000 mm/s as standard and makes very small wall thicknesses possible.
The cycle time, according to Engel, is up to 70% shorter than with previous amorphous metal injection moulding solutions, and the required heating power is reduced by 40 to 60%.
The machine can produce fit-for-purpose components in a single step from Amloy blanks in a single step in 60 to 120 seconds, depending on size and geometry.
Amorphous metals get their name from their randomly arranged – amorphous – molecular structure. Amloy components are hard yet highly elastic, featuring thin wall thicknesses while remaining durable, light and robust.
The material is also highly resistant to corrosion and is biocompatible in line with ISO 10993-5.
This combination of properties, according to Engel, renders Amloy “superior to steel, titanium and many other materials and opens a broad spectrum of applications.”
Fields of application include break-proof lightweight frames for portable electronic devices, durable instruments for minimally invasive surgery as well as stable suspensions and wear-resistant drivetrain components for the aerospace industry.
According to Engel, injection moulding of amorphous metals is also superior to MIM (metal injection moulding) and CNC machining.
“MIM processing of metal-plastic powders requires further work steps, such as debinding and sintering. The higher material shrinkage impairs reproducibility. CNC machining requires considerably more time and generates a large amount of waste,” Engel noted.