Heraeus and Engel Join Forces For Injection Molding Liquid Metals

New amorphous metal alloys from Heraeus and a special injection machine from Engel open up a new realm of injection molding possibilities.

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At this month’s Hannover Messe in Germany, Engel Austria and Heraeus of Germany are jointly demonstrating injection molding of amorphous liquid metals newly developed by Heraeus. This Amloy line of “metallic glass” materials includes alloys of zirconium, copper and other metals, including titanium, nickel, aluminum and niobium. Additional grades based on iron and platinum are in development. Current grades are fully liquid at temperatures of 770 to 920 C (1418 to 1688 F), depending on formulation. Their amorphous nature makes molded parts hard yet highly elastic, able to combine thin walls with durability. They are also scratch-resistant, biocompatible, and relatively lightweight—about 15% lower in density than steel. Unlike metal-powder injection molding (MIM), Amloy injection molding requires no secondary operations for debinding and sintering. Compared with CNC machining, injection molding is much faster and does not generate large amounts of waste. Amloy materials are aimed at applications from automotive and aerospace to watch components, surgical instruments, and break-proof, lightweight frames for electronic devices.

Engel has been involved in amorphous-metal injection molding since 2015, when it announced cooperation with Liquidmetal Technologies in the U.S. However, it now appears that Liquidmetal is focused on its own injection molding business with its patented materials (as well as MIM). Engel is offering a special AMM version of its hydraulic victory tiebarless machine with injection speed of 1000 mm/sec standard. This allows for very thin walls and reportedly achieves cycle times up to 70% shorter than previous amorphous-metal injection molding solutions, and the required heating power is reduced by 40-60%. In a single step, parts can be molded in 60 to 120 sec with a surface fineness of 0.05 microns, so manual reworking or further surface finishing is unnecessary for most applications. Both Heraeus Amloy materials and Engel victory AMM machines are available without a license.