CAE-based process designing of powder injection molding for thin-walled micro-fluidic device components Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1r66j3681

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  • Powder injection molding (PIM) is a net fabrication technique that combines the complex shape-forming ability of plastic injection molding, the precision of die-casting, and the material selection flexibility of powder metallurgy. For this study, the design issues related to PIM for fabrication of thin-walled high-aspect ratio geometries were investigated. These types of geometries are typical to the field of microtechnology-based energy and chemical systems (MECS). MECS are multi-scale (sizes in at least two or more different length scale regimes) fluidic devices working on the principle of heat and mass transfer through embedded micro and nanoscale features. Stainless steel was the material chosen for the investigations because of its high-thermal resistance and chemical inertness necessary for typical microfluidic applications. The investigations for the study were performed using the state-of-the-art computer aided engineering (CAE) design tool, PIMSolver®. The effect of reducing part thickness, on the process parameters including melt temperature, mold temperature, fill time and switch over position, during the mold-filling stage of the injection molding cycle were investigated. The design of experiments was conducted using the Taguchi method. It was seen that the process variability generally increased with reduction in thickness. Mold temperature played the most significant role in controlling the mold filling behavior as the part thickness reduced. The effects of reducing part thickness, process parameters, microscale surface geometry and delivery system design on the occurrence of defects like short shots were also studied. The operating range, in which the mold cavity was completely filled, was greatly reduced as the part thickness was reduced. The single edge gated delivery system designs, with single or branched runners, resulted in a completely formed part. The presence of microchannel features on the part surface increased the possibility of formation of defects like short shots and weld-lines when compared to a featureless part. The study explored some typical micro-fluidic geometries for fabrication using PIM. The final aspect of this study was the PIM experiments performed using a commercial stainless steel feedstock. Experiments were performed to study the mold-filling behavior of a thin, high aspect ratio part and also to study the effect of varying processing conditions on the mold-filling behavior. These experiments also provided correspondence to the mold filling behavior simulated using PIMSolver®. The PIMSolver® closely predicted the mold-filling patterns as seen in the experiments performed under similar molding conditions. The study was successful in laying down a quantitative framework for using PIM to fabricate micro-fluidic devices.
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