History of Success
MIM followed behind the first developments in plastic injection molding. Early polymers were thermosetting compounds; Bakelite, the first manmade polymer, was invented about 1909. Subsequently, as thermoplastic such as polyethylene and polypropylene emerged, forming machines appeared to facilitate the shaping of these polymers a few years later. The first demonstrations of MIM were coincidental with the emergence of plastic injection molding, starting in the 1940s and reaching commercial status in the 1970s.
Major attention came when a California MIM firm won design awards for a screw seal used on a Boeing jetliner and a rocket thrust-chamber for Rocketdyne and the US Air Force in 1979. Soon several patents emerged. By the middle 1980’s the technology landscape showed multiple actors.
By the early 1990s, the technology had spread around the world for small, complex, and high value components ranging from automotive fuel injectors to watch cases. Today, about 400 sites practice the technology, about 20 to 25% for internal products (such as firearm, watch, dental, or medical components) and the vast majority are able to form custom devices for designers, such as Apple, Motorola, Dell, HP, Honda, BMW, Samsung, Sears, Toyota, Chrysler, Seagate, Glock, and GE.