Plymouth, Michigan-based Metaldyne has signed an agreement with Mazda Motor Corporation, allowing the car maker to use its powder metal forged connecting rod technology in its new I4 global engine programme.

The engine is used in the new Atenza/Mazda 6 now being launched around the world and will also be installed in a number of future Ford and Mazda models.

Over several years, Metaldyne has worked with Mazda, through a technical licensing agreement, to help the car maker develop powder metal forging technology that will enable the production of fracture-split powder metal forged connecting rods in Japan.

Metaldyne claims to have pioneered powder metal forged connecting rod technology in the 1980s and says the improved strength, weight distribution and NVH characteristics of powder metal forged connecting rods make them a growing industry trend.

Metaldyne further claims that powder metals, said to be one of the fastest growing automotive materials on a content-per vehicle basis, are attractive to vehicle makers because they can be formed into intricate parts.

The powder metal process allows manufacturers to cut costs on critical parts by eliminating gear cutting, machining and other secondary operations that traditional metal-formed components require.