The effect of PSD on properties of unimodal and bimodal powders using 17-4 PH stainless steel powder

  • N. S. Muchavi
  • M. Seerane
  • R. MachakaEmail author


17-4 PH is a martensitic precipitation-hardening stainless steel that possesses an outstanding combination of superior physical and mechanical properties, good toughness, resistance to corrosion, and is easily machinable and weldable. It is widely used in the chemical, petrochemical, and aerospace industries. In this paper, we study the effect of the particle size distribution of unimodal and bimodal powders on properties of 17-4 PH stainless steel parts manufactured through metal injection molding (MIM). Unimodal and bimodal injectable MIM feedstocks of 60 vol% solids loading were prepared using powders of three different particle sizes with a wax-based binder system. The results show that coarser particle sizes (unimodal or bimodal) exhibit relatively lower shrinkage levels which is desirable for dimensional control but inferior “as-sintered” mechanical properties. The finer particle sizes (unimodal or bimodal) exhibited inferior rheological feedstock properties but comparatively superior “as-sintered” mechanical properties. The study suggests that bimodal feedstocks of finer particle sizes exhibit a favorable combination of rheological properties and “as-sintered” mechanical properties.


Metal injection molding Particle size 17-4 PH stainless steel Bimodal feedstocks Mechanical properties 



Epson Atmix Corporation in Japan is thanked for the supply of the powders used in this study. The contributions of Ntate Sam Papo, Lusanda Fikeni, Ntswaki Nyakane, Filipe Pereira, Chris McDuling, and Pierre Rossouw are duly recognized. We are also truly indebted to Phumlani Ndlangamandla, who collected some of the results as an undergraduate student from the University of Pretoria so as to his supervisor Vinod Kurup.

Author contributions

Study conception and design: Ronald Machaka (RM) and Phumlani Ndlangamandla (PN); Acquisition and processing of experimental data: Noluntu S. Muchavi (NSM), PN, RM, Mandy Seerane (MS), Lusanda Fikeni (LF), and Ntswaki Nyakane (NN); Analysis and interpretation of data: NSM, MS, and RM; Drafting of the manuscript: NSM, MS, and RM; Critical revision: NSM, MS, and RM; Final approval: NSM, MS, and RM; Lead and guarantor author: RM

Funding information

The CSIR supported this work through a Parliamentary Grant and the Department of Science and Innovation also supported this work through the Advanced Material initiative.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Advanced Manufacturing & Engineering, Manufacturing ClusterCouncil for Scientific and Industrial ResearchPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Metallurgy, School of Mining, Metallurgy and Chemical EngineeringUniversity of JohannesburgPretoriaSouth Africa

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