When designers at Kaba-Ilco Corp., Rocky Mount, N.C. (www.kaba-ilco.com), devised a new key-cutting machine, experience told them that powder metallurgy (P/M) was the manufacturing option of choice for the three parts that would hold keys during grinding. That's because P/M forms precision net-shape parts at low production volumes and it would let them ramp up for larger production runs in the future.

Three components, upper and lower vice jaws, and a key stop gage, were specifically designed for P/M, giving Kaba-Ilco good part-to-part consistency, a key design criteria. The copper-infiltrated, FX-2008 alloy from Wakefield Corp., Wakefield, Mass. (www.wake.com), is used for the three parts. It provides the strength and wear properties needed for the jaws to securely hold key blanks during cutting. The alloy boasts a transverse rupture strength of 164 kpsi, an ultimate tensile strength of 72.3 kpsi, an elongation of 2%, and a hardness of 93 RB.

-- Jean M. Hoffman