Metal injection molding (MIM) is a method of combining fine metal powders (aluminum, magnesium, steel, etc.) with binders (various thermoplastics, waxes, and other materials) to create granular materials. It is then used in a conventional injection molding machine where the granulating material is used. MIM is limited to relatively small parts, usually made up of highly complex geometry. CT scanning is an excellent choice for partial examination of these small, miniature parts. In this small detail you can measure and check element geometry. A complete GD&T measurement plan can also be used for small parts to check for discrepancies in the manufacturing process or validate the design. Verifying miniature components has traditionally been expensive, but with industrial CT scanning, inspection of miniature parts or components is easier and faster.

CT scanning is a powerful tool for mold designers, production departments and quality departments. In medicine, it can be used to find abnormalities in the brain or heart or broken bones. In the injection molding industry, it can be used to find voids and other defects in injection molded parts, as well as to assist engineers in troubleshooting other types of faults.

How a CT machine works: An item to be evaluated is placed on a rotating table and rotated as multiple two-dimensional X-ray images are produced. Computers link these images into detailed three-dimensional images. Traditionally, 3D CT images are only used to identify the presence or absence of specific features or defects, not for dimensional measurement.

With the introduction of enhanced technology, the capabilities of CT are combined with the precision of metrology, not only to find defects, but also to measure the internal and external dimensions of parts and components. Specially developed software is able to combine the functions of CT and CMM (coordinate measuring machine) and overlay actual measurements with CAD models to see and measure the differences between the two. The measurement capabilities of CT scanning augments provide designers and engineers with critical information they need to modify processes or remake molds. It helps engineers evaluate injection molded parts more quickly and accurately, and provides more accurate information for modifying production processes or retooling.