Specialized Turning Blog

Precision Inconel Machining: The Superalloy and Its Specific Requirements

Posted by Chip Holm on Feb 18, 2016 3:38:38 PM

What Is Inconel®?

Predominantly nickel, with chromium as a second element, Inconel® alloys are oxidation-corrosion-resistant materials. It is a family of austenite nickel-chromium-based superalloys or high-performance alloys.

Inconel® is the preferred metal for high temperature requirements in aerospace engines, gas turbines, food processing, and petrochemical and geothermal applications. 

Photo credit: Photo by bnhsu; some rights reserved; taken at Gothenburg Airport, Västra Götaland 
Tesla Motors recently replaced steel with Inconel® in its Model S main battery pack contactor. This has resulted in the increase of power output, which Tesla refers to as “Ludicrous model.” Considered a space-grade superalloy, one of more famous uses of Inconel® is in the manufacturing process of SpaceX’s SuperDraco engine.

While this metal easily surpasses aluminum and steel in terms of retaining structural integrity under high temperatures, it is also an extremely difficult—as well as expensive—metal to shape and machine.

Looking for Custom Machining of Inconel® Fittings and Inconel® Parts?

At Specialized Turning, we are well-versed with the Inconel® machining process and possess the technology to handle this tough metal while maximizing our machining efficiency.  

As the experts in machining Inconel® alloys 600, 625, and 718, we only use advanced tooling geometries and coatings. This ensures the most economical stock removal rates at the highest speeds—conducive to avoid damaging work hardening.

Special Characteristics of These Superalloys

Inconel® 600 – Solid solution strengthened, used in furnace component, chemical processing equipment, food industry, and in nuclear engineering. Maintains its structure in applications where other alloys undergo permanent, irreversible distortions.

Inconel® 625 – Acid-resistant, good weld-ability, and effective at resisting crevice corrosion. Makes for a chosen material in the aerospace and marine engineering industries.

Inconel® 718 – Gamma double prime strengthened with good weld-ability that is particularly resistant to post-weld cracking. Well suited to both high-temperature and aqueous environments.

Restrictions on Machining Parameters

The high cost of Inconel® can be attributed to the high amount of energy required to remove the metal. Once on the tooling floor, machining can prove to be costly. When machining Inconel®, we must consider some tough restrictions on machining parameters that can affect:

  • Metal removal rates to avoid work hardening
  • Surface finish quality
  • Dimensional accuracy
  • Tool life (premature tool change vs. expense of regrind)
  • Run time (as compared to machining other types of alloys)
  • General maintenance of machines

With our extensive inventory of tooling upfront costs and order processing, we are successful in minimizing the costs. Let’s talk about your Inconel® needs and how we can best fulfill them.

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Topics: Precision Inconel Machining, Inconel