Case study PIM

Rapid prototyping and production of complex copper components by means of metal powder injection molding

Ulm-based Wieland-Werke AG has already introduced a new kind of technology in metal injection molding (MIM) for complex-shaped components made of copper alloys, which enable many design freedoms and a more economical production. Now the company also offers engineers and design engineers a production process for prototypes, which ensures a much faster and cheaper production of prototypes and pre-production models.  For this, we use 3D printing to produce a cost-effective plastic injection molding tool, "explains Dr.-Ing. Uwe Hofmann, Head of New Product Lines at Wieland. "With this tool, we use metal injection molding to produce components that serve the customer as a design or functional prototype."

The advantages of this new method, which Wieland has developed in cooperation with the 3D printing specialist Stratasys Ltd., are the enormous time and cost savings.

Thanks to the Moldex3D software, both component and tool designs can be pre-tested for flaws and can be improved. The plastic tool for prototype production is only printed if both have been optimized for injection molding. With this innovative manufacturing process from Wieland, designers can test, optimize, and bring their product ideas to production with far less time and cost-effective than before.

In addition, Wieland offers filling simulations for injection molding as a very effective method to increase and secure component quality in the pre-series phase. Thanks to the Moldex3D simulation software, it is possible to follow on screen how the tool fills over the course of time. This monitoring of the component manufacturing enables to identify and eliminate weaknesses in the design early on – until the desired component quality is achieved.