A knee-replacement part and a hearing aid part were winners in the medical/dental category in the 2018 Powder Metallurgy (PM) Design Excellence Awards Competition. Winners were announced at the POWDERMET 2018 International Conference on Powder Metallurgy & Particulate Materials. The competition is sponsored by the Metal Powder Industries Federation (an international trade association for the metal powder producing and consuming industries).
The Grand Prize in the Medical/Dental Category was awarded to ARC Group Worldwide for a MIM-17-4 PH size 5 cutting block made for Smith & Nephew. The block goes into the recently launched Visionaire FastPak Single Use Instruments used in knee-replacement surgery. The extreme complexity created by the overall size of the component, which weighs in at nearly a pound, combined with non-uniform wall thicknesses and the need for stress mitigation for finished machining operations, makes this a highly challenging part to process via metal injection molding (MIM). The MIM component is estimated to save 60 percent in cost over traditional manufacturing methods.
An Award of Distinction in the Medical/Dental Category went to Indo-MIM Pvt., Ltd., for two permalloy parts — a cup and a cover — that are assembled to form a hearing aid enclosure. Both MIM parts are fabricated to near-net shape, with the cup only having a sizing operation to bring its overall dimensions within specification and the cover finish undergoing glass-bead blasting. The extremely thin walls of the parts, as well as complex features such as holes, pips, and pips with holes, would make this application more difficult, thus more expensive, to produce using any other conventional method.
Receiving grand prizes and awards of distinction, the winning parts are outstanding examples of PM’s flexibility to push forward new concepts and process controls and demonstrate the inexhaustible well of capabilities PM can marshal in the service of component design. Designers continue to choose PM for critical applications such as medical devices. MIM is one of the PM-based technologies that forms metal powders into precision components.