Introduction

THE P/M INDUSTRY has grown considerably in the past decade. As a result of this growth, more critical components in the automotive, aircraft, tooling, and industrial equipment industries are being considered for manufacture using this technology. This is placing increasingly stringent quality requirements on the final P/M part. Variations in part density, mechanical properties including strength, wear, and fatigue life, as well as in aesthetic appearance and dimensional accuracy are no longer tolerated. As a result, metal powder producers and P/M part manufacturers must continually improve their capabilities to ensure the delivery of a consistent, uniform product. Research has demonstrated that these part qualities are significantly affected by changes (variations) in the particle size distribution, particle shape, and consequently the uniformity of powder blends (a combination of one or more particle sizes of a single powder) and mixes (a combination of one or more types of powders) (Ref 1, 2).

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