Powder metallurgy products used in the automotive industry

The powder metallurgy products used in automobiles are highly technological products, which can reduce the weight of automobiles and reduce manufacturing costs. They also have the function of optimizing the production process of automotive industry products and improving the competitiveness of the automotive industry. Currently, there are over 400 powder metallurgy components used in automobiles worldwide.  
As a typical net final shape manufacturing technology, powder metallurgy has advantages in many aspects such as energy conservation, material conservation, environmental protection, economy, and efficiency, and has gradually been recognized and widely applied by various industries; Especially with the application and rapid development of automotive powder metallurgy products, the powder metallurgy industry has entered a fast lane of development.  
In order to explore the specific applications and development trends of powder metallurgy technology and products in the automotive industry, the reporter interviewed Professor Han Fenglin, Senior Advisor of the Powder Metallurgy Professional Association of the China Machinery General Parts Industry Association.  
Wide international application, great potential in China
Professor Han introduced that powder metallurgy is a new metal forming technology that uses metal powder as the basic raw material and uses forming sintering to manufacture metal products. In 1940, a large American automotive company changed all the oil pump gears used to powder metallurgy gears, laying a foundation for powder metallurgy structural parts in the automotive industry.  
According to data, the total production of powder metallurgy parts in China in 2006 was 78.03 million tons, of which the production of powder metallurgy parts for automobiles had reached 28.877 million tons; In addition, based on the progress of the average weight of powder metallurgy parts used in each light vehicle (including sedans), in 2006, the average weight used per vehicle in China was 3.97 kilograms, 8.7 kilograms in Japan, and 19.5 kilograms in North America. In addition, the application of powder metallurgy parts in the automotive industry is currently under development, with engine parts weighing 16-20 kilograms, transmission parts weighing 15-18 kilograms, transfer case parts weighing 8-10 kilograms, and other parts weighing 7-9 kilograms. It can be seen that China has great market potential for developing powder metallurgy automotive parts.  
Powder metallurgy parts can reduce costs and vehicle weight
When it comes to the production development and current situation of powder metallurgy automotive parts, Professor Han said that the powder metallurgy parts used in automotive manufacturing mainly include sintered metal oil bearing and powder metallurgy structural parts. The former is mainly produced from 90Cu-10Sn bronze, while the latter is mainly manufactured from iron powder as the basic raw material.  
The following are several examples of powder metallurgy technology applications: a powder metallurgy 64 tooth power take-off drive gear, which saves about 40% of the cost compared to parts processed by steel cutting, and the teeth of the gear do not require subsequent processing; The utility model relates to a powder metallurgy synchronizer ring for automobile manual transmission, which can reduce the cost by 38% compared with the synchronizer ring produced by conventional production; A powder metallurgy composite planetary gear carrier with an ultimate strength 40% higher than that of cast iron machined parts, and a cost reduction of over 35%
From the two powder metallurgy parts that have won various awards, it can be seen that at least three of them are processed using selective compaction technology, two parts are manufactured using warm compaction technology, six parts are composed of more than two different parts, and the most common type of combined parts is composed of 18 powder metallurgy parts. Professor Han said that these award-winning parts indicate that powder metallurgy parts can not only replace cast iron parts, forged steel parts, and machined parts, save labor, materials, and energy, reduce production costs, but also reduce the weight of parts, which is conducive to the lightweight of automobiles. More importantly, the development of powder metallurgy composite parts signifies that some parts can only be manufactured using powder metallurgy technology, which has important technical and economic significance.  
Powder metallurgy is a "green" manufacturing technology
At present, powder metallurgy has been recognized as a green and sustainable manufacturing technology by the industry. Professor Han introduced the sustainable functions, material sustainability, energy sustainability, equipment sustainability, environmental sustainability, sustainable employment, and sustainable value advantages of powder metallurgy.  
For example, in terms of sustained functionality, powder metallurgy has a high final forming ability and material utilization rate, which can minimize all energy consumption. Compared with the traditional process (hot working+cold processing) of casting or forging+cutting, the powder metallurgy process only requires a few processes to manufacture the same part, that is, it can complete more complex processes.  
In terms of material sustainability, the final forming ability of powder metallurgy is its main advantage. For example, when forming a toothed part, up to 40% of the material in traditional cutting processes becomes chips, while 85% of the total powder used in powder metallurgy is produced from recycled materials. In the production process of powder metallurgy parts, the waste loss in each process is generally 3% or less, and the material utilization rate can reach 95%.  
In terms of energy sustainability, traditional manufacturing processes typically require several heating and reheating processes before they can be finally formed; When using atomization method to produce steel powder or iron powder, it only needs to smelt the scrap once, and all other hot working operations are carried out at a temperature lower than the melting point. This not only saves energy, but also can make the final shape and form the required material properties and mechanical usability. By comparing the material utilization rate of metal forming processes, it was found that the energy required to manufacture powder metallurgy parts is 44% of that of forging cutting processed parts.  
In terms of environmental sustainability, due to the ultimate formability characteristics of powder metallurgy, in general, parts are made into finished products after sintering, which can be packaged and delivered. In most cases, the cutting fluid used for processing P/M products is negligible, and the toxic pollutants released by cooling water and other pollution sources are also very few. Compared to other manufacturing processes, the powder metallurgy parts industry poses almost no environmental harm.  
At present, powder metallurgy parts have become an indispensable and important basic component in the automotive industry. Professor Han introduced that according to incomplete statistics, at least 12 major powder metallurgy parts production enterprises in Japan, including Sumitomo Electric, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Baolai, have established sole proprietorships or joint ventures in China; Major powder metallurgy parts production factories in Taiwan, such as Qingzhi, Sanlin, and more than 12 other enterprises, have also established production bases in Dongguan, Wuxi, and Suzhou. In addition, many world-renowned European and American powder metallurgy enterprises have also established sole proprietorships in China. Professor Han believes that in the near future, Chinese Mainland will gradually become a large distribution center of global PM auto parts.