MPIF has an interesting history and structure, could you describe it?
I’d be glad to. The Metal Powder Industries Federation is truly a unique organization. It was founded about 65 years ago at the close of World War II, when a number of trade associations that were involved in the powder metal (PM) industry decided to join forces in order to advance their shared interests, so we’re a federation of associations, as it were. There are now six associations involved, which are the Powder Metallurgy Parts Association (PMPA), the Metal Powder Producers Association (MPPA), the Powder Metallurgy Equipment Association (PMEA), the Metal Injection Molding Association (MIMA), the Refractory Metals Association (RMA), and the Advanced Particulate Materials Association (APMA). One thing I’d like to point out is that MIMA was actually created within the MPIF, when members of that growing industry came together and the association was formed, so you can almost think of the federation as being an incubator within which new professional associations can be launched and recognized. And the members of those associations are automatically included in the MPIF’s membership. We’ve found this model works very well for us, today just as it did in the beginning.
What are the advantages of becoming a member?
The primary advantage would probably be supporting an organization that presents a unified front in representing all members of the North American PM industry, promoting its interests both here and around the world. We are heavily involved in developing PM standards, working with all the necessary U.S. and international standards organizations, and we offer an educational component to our members by way of the short courses and seminars we present in cities around the country and online through our E-learning initiative. We publish books of standards, textbooks, collections of our meeting proceedings, and we even offer books from other publishers on our Web site that are of benefit to our members.
One of our most important contributions, however, would have to be the annual PowderMet conference, which we’ve been holding nearly since the federation was first created. In addition to MPIF, we have our professional society, APMI International, celebrating its 50-year anniversary this year, which publishes the International Journal of Powder Metallurgy, focusing on advances in research and technology in the PM industry. We also manage the affairs of the Center for Powder Metallurgy Technology, which is a separate group with its own board of trustees that the MPIF formed about 20 years ago to conduct research funded by the center’s members.
Tell us about the conference, and what attendees can expect to see there.
We hold PowderMet each year at a different location in the United States or Canada. Past sites have included Montreal, Washington, San Diego, and Vancouver, among other locations, and this year it will be held in Las Vegas, which is a real favorite among our members and attendees. We’ll be at the Mirage Hotel from June 28 until July 1, and we’re expecting about 1,000 attendees this year. There will be more than 200 presentations, and several of them will be on gearing since that’s such an important part of our industry. We held a special interest program on gearing technology last year that was one of the best-attended events we’ve offered. While PowderMet is an annual international event, every six years it expands into a larger PM World Congress here in North America. The World Congress rotates around the globe every two years, hosted by related PM organizations in Europe and Asia. We hosted it last year in Washington D.C., and next year it will be held in Florence, Italy, sponsored by the European Powder Metallurgy Association.
From your front-row seat, what new developments do you see in the PM industry?
With the increasing focus on identifying the most-efficient production methods, many PM parts manufacturers are looking at incorporating more automation into their processes, so that’s something we’re seeing gain prominence. Also, the growing emphasis on sustainability has really attracted the notice of manufacturers who are looking for a new market to enter. That’s something that has really drawn a lot of attention to our industry lately, since the way we produce PM products results in so little material waste or loss. We always like to point out that, not only is PM a green industry, it always has been!