Specialized Turning Blog

What Should I Know About Machining Inconel?

Posted by Chip Holm on May 7, 2019 2:47:30 PM

 Considerations of Costs and Qualities of Inconel

It’s well-known that inconel is among the most difficult materials to work with—due to, in part, to the toll it takes on the tooling but also its heat resistance properties. This material is in high demand in industries like aerospace, petrochemical, chemical, military, nuclear, pollution control, etc., anywhere there is extreme heat so there is good reason to discuss why it is sought after.

inconel attributes

Let's take a quick look at inconel’s most valuable attributes that show why it is so versatile.

Types & Attributes of inconel:

  • Inconel 600 – used mostly in corrosive environments such as furnaces, heat treating equipment, steam generation
  • Inconel 625 – high strength & toughness used in marine equipment bellow tubing and assemblies, heat exchangers
  • Inconel 718 – weldability, oxidation resistance used in high heat environments such as jet engines, hot extrusion tooling, chemical processing

Inconel alloys are oxidation-corrosion resistant materials best for use in extreme environments subjected to pressure and heat. When heated, inconel forms a thick, stable oxide layer protecting the surface. Inconel retains strength over a wide temperature range, attractive for high-temperature applications such as jet and rocket engines and steam turbines.

High Price of Machining Inconel

At Specialized Turning, we are well-versed in how to handle this tough metal and maximize our machining efficiency, so we wouldn’t call it high-maintenance exactly—but it is close, when it comes to qualifying how inconel is to work with. A few factors that contribute to the high cost of inconel involve the high amount of energy required to separate the metal. Once on the tooling floor, machining is costly. When machining inconel, we must consider some tough restrictions on machining parameters that can affect:

  • Metal removal rates
  • 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

Inconel’s Machinability

While finished precision inconel components have many attractive features, some of the properties of inconel that impact its performance when being machined give credence to its classification as being tough to work with. Factors that influence inconel’s machinability are:

  • Poor conduction of heat, effectively concentrating the heat on the cutting edge and tool face creating excessive wear
  • Chemical reactivity, which causes galling, welding, and smearing, all also leading to compromising the cutting
  • Precise speeds and feeds required  to mitigate inconel’s “springy” quality that tends to distort key features, especially any thin cross-sections of the part 

See How We Work with Inconel!

At Specialized Turning, we are experts in machining inconel alloys to produce the best possible quality and value. While each type of Inconel has its own intricacies, we match state-of-the-art tooling geometries and coatings to ensure the most economical stock removal rates at highest speeds possible for economical machining. With our extensive inventory of tooling upfront costs and order processing, expenses are minimized.

Let’s talk about your inconel needs. We’d love to get the conversation started. Contact us today!

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Topics: Inconel, inconel tooling, inconel price, machining inconel