High-temperature powder metal, also known as powder metal sintering, offers an affordable alternative to machining, casting, stamping, and forging processes. It involves compacting powdered metal and exposing it to a controlled high-temperature environment, resulting in a material with superior physical and mechanical properties. Sintered stainless steel parts offer various benefits, making them useful across a range of applications.

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Sintered stainless steel is a metal material that has undergone the sintering process, which involves heating powdered metal below its melting point until a molecular bond is formed between the particles. Sintered stainless steel is made up of various metals, including Ni, Fe, Cr with trace amounts of Mn, Si, C, P, and Mo in some grades. This process results in an end product with many desirable qualities, such as a slow deformation rate, resistance to high temperatures, and more.

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The stainless steel sintering process typically follows these steps:

Blending
The sintering process begins by blending the necessary powdered metals into a uniform mixture. Typically, the initial material is an iron-based powder mix, which is combined with different alloying elements depending on the property requirements of the finished product. Blending also involves the addition of a solid lubricant, which serves to reduce friction between the surface of the compaction tool and the powder mass.

Compacting
During the compaction phase, a predetermined amount of the powder mixture is fed into the die cavity before it is compacted with a force up to 45 tons per sq inch. The resulting material has an approximate density of 85% to 95%. After compaction, the “green” part has the desired shape, but not the final dimensions. Because of this, allowances are made to accommodate the shrinkage that occurs during the sintering stage.

Sintering
The last step is sintering. This stage involves placing the “green” part into a furnace at a temperature just below the metal’s melting point. Stainless steel parts are typically exposed to temperatures up to 2350° F. During sintering, the powdered particles fuse together and form a molecular bond, enhancing the part’s mechanical properties.

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There are numerous advantages of using sintered stainless steel for parts. These include:

  • Material and labor efficiency. The high-temperature powder metal process uses 100% of the powdered material, producing significantly less waste compared to other machining processes. The process also often utilizes automatic, rapid cycle presses to quickly and consistently create sintered stainless steel parts.
  • Flexibility. The stainless steel sintering process can accommodate a wide range of intricate shapes, including knobs, knurls, gears, splines, and more. This flexibility makes this process suitable for a range of applications.
  • Close tolerances. The high-temperate powder metal process can create parts with much tighter tolerances compared to stamping, forging, and casting.
  • Desirable material properties. Sintered stainless steel offers a wide range of advantageous mechanical and physical properties. Additional alloying elements can also be added to further improve certain qualities.
  • Reduced assemblies. By consolidating multiple parts and assembly steps into a single powdered metal component, stainless steel sintering minimizes manufacturing steps, resulting in lowered costs.

These benefits make sintered stainless steel ideal for a wide range of applications, including:

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Pacific Sintered Metals uses a wide range of metals to suit the specific application requirements of your parts. We work with the following stainless steels to produce sintered stainless steel parts:

  • 300 Series Stainless Steel. These grades of stainless steel are a non-magnetic, non-hardenable stainless steel that is ideal for mechanical and instrumental components requiring corrosion resistance.
  • 400 Series Stainless Steel. These magnetic grades of stainless steel are suitable for applications requiring high tensile strength and excellent wear properties.

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Stainless steel sintered parts offer various benefits for use in a wide range of applications. Pacific Sintered Metals, a division of PSM Industries, is a world leader in design and engineering solutions for powered metal fabrication. We work with our customers to deliver precise, high-quality, and cost-effective solutions for even the most challenging projects. To learn more about our sintered stainless steel capabilities, contact us or request a quote today.