Inconel in Aerospace Applications
What is Inconel?
Inconel encompasses a particular set of nickel alloys or nickel-chromium alloys. Inconel alloys are durable, corrosion resistant, rust resistant and very sturdy. Inconel is a Special Metals Corporation registered trademark, with the name referring to certain super alloys of nickel and chromium. These alloys are produced with differing grades, ranging in a number of sizes and shapes. Weiss-Aug notes that Inconel can come in grades of 625, 718, X-750 and quite a few others.
The various grades of Inconel have differing amounts of certain metals, and these different configurations mean that each alloy’s properties will slightly differ. The majority of Inconel grades contain both nickel and chromium, with many of these alloys also containing much smaller amounts of materials such as aluminum, iron, tin and cobalt. ADDere’s additive system has descriptive material reference charts and other information that outlines the chemical makeup present in each of ADDere’s metal 3D printing system Inconel alloys.
Components Manufactured with Inconel
The aircraft manufacturing industry is turning to Inconel alloys during the build process for a durable, corrosion resistant, rust resistant and strength. Inconel is used in the aerospace industry during applications where intensely high temperatures can be present, such as in jet engines. Under high heat, Inconel forms a protective oxide layer that makes it heat-resistant. Additionally, these alloys are highly resistant to pressure, oxidation and corrosion. The aerospace industry has many uses for Inconel due to these benefits, as well as its ability to be used for a number of mechanical purposes.
Here are some of the aerospace parts and components that are made with Inconel alloys.
Gas turbine rotors, blades and seals
Properties and Aerospace Applications of Inconel
Inconel plays important roles in protecting other components while encountering environments and situations with high pressures. These alloys are used in aircraft components that require a high degree of reliability under high pressures, such as heat shields, gas turbine blades and engine exhaust piping.
High-temperature resistance and the ability to stabilize itself over a wide range of temperatures are two features of Inconel that are highly sought-after in the aerospace industry. Aircraft parts that have to handle years of operation in high temperature environments are ideal for Inconel. The jet engine and engine exhaust systems of aircrafts greatly benefit when Inconel is incorporated into their systems. Inconel has a hardening feature that permits it to deal with high-heat situations better than materials such as steel and aluminum. Metal alloys are novel solutions to long-standing industrial problems such as the need for heat-resistant parts and materials.
Advantages of Inconel to Other Metals
Inconel is a superb choice for industrial and aerospace situations where a material that is highly-resilient in the face of both high temperatures and chemical corrosion. This alloy is also able to withstand high-oxidation environments that would quickly degrade the integrity of most other metals and metal alloys. Here are four areas of applications where Inconel really stands out compared to other metals.
Heat Treating Applications
Inconel is capable of retaining an impressive amount of tensile strength even under intense levels of heat. Marlin Steel claims that Inconel 625 can retain 13.3 kilo-pounds per square inch of a load at 2,000°F. This makes it the material of choice for heat treating applications, as it is capable of withstanding high temperatures better than stainless steel, titanium and other metals. This means that Inconel alloys would retain their heat-treated shapes much better than the majority of other metal alloys, including stainless steel alloys.
Adaptability in Changing Temperature Differences
There are times when it’s desirable to have a metal or metal alloy that handle environments with rapid changes between low and high temperatures. Inconel alloys tend to still possess their high oxidation resistance levels at both low and high temperatures. This means that the same Inconel part can be used in industrial processes with temperatures that shift from roughly cryogenic-level low temperatures to heat treating-level high temperatures.
Resistance to Saltwater Exposure
Inconel has many uses in saltwater applications due to its high-resistance to sodium chloride at a wide range of temperatures. Aerospace manufacturing use Inconel in components that will become exposed to salt or in conditions that are near saltwater sources. While some stainless steel alloys are also highly resistant to saltwater, Inconel still has its advantages. In temperatures above 1,000°F, Inconel maintains its high oxidation resistance and has more utility than grade 316 of stainless steel at the same temperature. Material Science publisher AZoM mentions that titanium can only retain its high resistance to saltwater corrosion up to about 500°F, making Inconel the superior choice to that alloy as well.
Jet Engine Construction
Inconel is a top-pick for jet engine construction material because it can retain its high oxidation resistant levels and tensile strength levels even under rapid and drastic temperature changes. These strengths apply even to the high temperature combustion processes and the cooling systems used in the aircraft temperature control and regulation systems.
Inconel can easily be 3D printed
Using laser wire additive manufacturing processes like the ADDere system, large scale Inconel parts can be printed to near net shape quickly and easily.
Contact us today to learn how we can help your Inconel aerospace component manufacturing process with the ADDere additive process.