TitleMaterials and process design for powder injection molding of silicon nitride for the fabrication of engine components
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsLenz, JH
UniversityOregon State University
CityCorvallis, Or.
Thesis TypeMasters Thesis

A new material system was developed for fabricating the combustion engine of an unmanned aerial vehicle. The material system consisted of a mixture of nanoscale and microscale particles of silicon nitride. Magnesia and yttria were used as sintering additives. The powders were mixed with a paraffin binder system. The binder-powder was analyzed for its properties and molding attributes. The study involved several steps of the development and processing. These steps include torque rheometery analysis, mixing scale-up, property measurements of binder-powder, injection molding, binder removal, sintering, scanning electron microscopy analysis and mechanical properties measurements. Simulations of the injection molding process were conducted to assess the feasibility of manufacturing a ceramic engine and to determine its optimal process parameters. The model building required for the simulation was based on flow and solidification behavior data compiled for the binder-powder mixture. The simulations were performed using the Moldfow software package. A design of experiments approach was set up in order to gain an understanding of critical process parameters as well as identifying a feasible process window. Quality criteria were then analyzed in order to determine the optimal production parameters. The study resulted in the successful development of design parameters that will enable fabrication of silicon nitride engine components by powder injection molding.