Powder metallurgy (PM) is a term covering a wide range of ways in which materials or components are made from metal powders. PM processes can avoid, or greatly reduce, the need to use metal removal processes, thereby drastically reducing yield losses in manufacture and often resulting in lower costs.
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Powder metallurgy is also used to make unique materials impossible to get from melting or forming in other ways. A very important product of this type is tungsten carbide (WC). WC is used to cut and form other metals and is made from WC particles bonded with cobalt. It is very widely used in industry for tools of many types and globally ~50,000 tonnes/year (t/y) is made by PM. Other products include sintered filters, porous oil-impregnated bearings, electrical contacts and diamond tools.
Since the advent of industrial production–scale metal powder–based additive manufacturing (AM) in the 2010s, selective laser sintering and other metal AM processes are a new category of commercially important powder metallurgy applications.