Inconel in Military and Defense Products
Specialized Metals are used in a wide variety of military applications, from turbine engines to airframe parts and fasteners. Different metals have different characteristics that make them ideal for different military applications but one such metal that both military and defense sectors of the industry rely on is Inconel. ADDere Additive systems have proven their ability at printing a diverse selection of Inconel to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers’.
What is Inconel?
Inconel is a group of metals within a nickel-based family of alloys. According to sciencing.com, there are more than 20 variations of this metal included in this group. Each of the different types is identified by number and have slight differences in their composition which makes them uniquely suited for use under different military and defense applications.
The name Inconel is actually a registered brand trademark used by Special Metals Corporation which produces the metal under its brand name. ADDere offers metals with the same chemical and mechanical makeup for use in its metal 3D printing process.
Why is Inconel so useful in the industry?
Inconel is also part of a group called super alloys. A super alloy is an alloy which exhibits exceptional traits which make them highly useful in industries that need something very strong and resilient. What characteristics make it so useful?
Corrosion resistance to acids such as sulfuric, phosphorus, nitric acids, and hydrochloric acids
Corrosion resistance to caustic materials, high purity water, and stress-corrosion cracking
Retains mechanical properties at extremely high or low temperatures
Resists pitting, crevice corrosion, oxidation, and inter-crystalline corrosion
Retains its high strength characteristics, even when heated
Due to Inconel’s ability to remain strong, resist cracking and corrosion, and retain its properties, this metal is found in many aerospace applications. Its resilience also makes it ideal for producing products for the military and defense industries. Here are a couple of examples of various grades of Inconel used in the armed forces industries.
The 601 variations of this metal are composed of a nickel-chromium base. It is known to be able to keep its structural integrity even after it has been exposed to extreme conditions for prolonged periods of time. It can resist oxidation up to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit and will resist corrosion from the heat under situations where oxidizing is an issue. This type is also resistant to chipping or flaking under situations where it is cycled through extreme heat and cold temperatures in order to optimize its molecular structure. It does this by forming a dense oxide scale that tightly adheres to its outer layer.
These properties make variant 601 an optimal choice for gas turbines in armed forces applications such as engines for naval vessels and other amphibious ships, patrol boats, destroyers, and aircraft carriers.
Option 718 is a nickel-chromium alloy that is used in the armed forces and defense sectors because of its creep-rupture strength that is maintained up to a 1300 degree Fahrenheit level. According to Nde-ed.org, creep-rupture is the deformation of the material over time as a load that is under its maximum capacity is applied. Many times extreme temperatures are involved and if the issue is not rectified, the material will ultimately rupture and break.
This variant of Inconel contains sizeable amounts of iron, niobium, and molybdenum, as well as smaller quantities of aluminum and titanium. With its resistance to corrosion, ability to be welded, and to be printed with additive manufacturing capabilities. Incredible strength give it ideal properties to be used in military applications for turbine engines. Variation 718 is also used in high-speed airframe parts and fasteners that are exposed to high temperature. This is because of its exceptional tensile and impact properties even when it is under extreme conditions such as exposure to cryogenic temperatures.
Inconel has many uses for armed forces and defense manufacturing applications both on land and in the air. The 625 variation covers the “at sea” element with this metal’s ability to be used in aqueous conditions. Its high strength is created by the addition of niobium which solidifies the matrix of the material. Variation 625 has superb fatigue strength and resists cracking, pitting, and crevice corrosion caused by chloride ions found in seawater.
These special features of this metal's variation make it useful for sea applications such as propeller blades, submarine fittings, submarine propulsion motor elements, and steal-line bellows.
Considering 3D printing Inconel or super alloy components? Contact us to learn how ADDere Additive Manufacturing Systems can make that a reality!