The use of metal alloys has really expanded in today's technical manufacturing industry. The traditional use of whole metals has, to a large extent, been replaced by the process of merging and blending these metals, and creating new alloys with key physical properties to support business goals. That’s not to say that individual metals are not used - but alloys offer a range of ways to offer more precision for parts and product builds.
Alloys have become popular to such an extent that many consumer products now feature the word in advertising and product specifications. For example, new cars come with ‘alloy wheels.’ Various types of alloys are commonly used to produce modern jewelry. But alloys are arguably even more valuable in industrial B2B situations where the finished products are used in key areas like medical, automotive, aerospace and defense. Here, it is critically important to deliver strength, hardness, durability, and corrosion resistance and other properties, not just for the sake of convenience or product quality, but for public safety reasons. Alloys help to accomplish compliance with key standards and quality that will serve customers well in important mission-critical transport, medical and defense applications.
One of the most popular types of alloys in modern manufacturing is called Inconel. Many outside of the industry have never heard of this, and may not understand what it is.
Inconel is a name for certain groups of nickel alloys, many of which also include chromium. Inconel alloys are known for their resistance to rust and corrosion, and for their hardness and durability. As a fairly new types of industrial solution, Inconel materials are becoming very popular for a wide array of consumer and B2B applications. Many fabricators and machine shops will be completely familiar with Inconel as an alloy choice.
Uses of Inconel
Inconel is a type of alloy that's often used in parts destined for high pressure environments. In industrial facing projects, Inconel may be used for various items such as turbine blades, exhaust pipes, and heat shields. Inconel is also used in various types of automotive and aircraft parts that have to stand up to high pressure and/or high temperatures. In fact, its use in exhaust systems is an excellent example of practical applications for high heat. Automotive and aerospace systems need to stand up to high temperatures, not just over a set of operating hours, but for years, as a vehicle ages. So the use of Inconel and other high-heat materials is key to quality over time.
In fact, one of the big benefits of Inconel is its resistance to temperature, or its stabilization across a wide temperature range. Industrial companies have been looking for solutions to high heat applications for decades. For example, in past eras of manufacturing, the natural mineral asbestos was used for handling high heat. However, as it was later found to be hazardous to human health, the use of asbestos was largely phased out of the production of many different types of products for furnaces and boilers, brake pads and linings, and other types of industrial parts.
Inconel is part of a modern solution to heat resistance -- where aluminum or steel may not handle heat as well, a particular type of hardening makes Inconel strong enough to handle high heat.
The specific properties of Inconel will differ according to its particular type. Most compounds contain nickel and chromium, while many also have smaller amounts of iron, cobalt, aluminum, tin and other materials. Manufacturers will keep detailed charts of exactly how much of a given metal goes into an Inconel alloy, because the specific ratios will influence the properties and overall build of the metal.
Working with Inconel
Despite and partly because of Inconel’s durability, the alloy can be difficult to work with in a production environment. Machining can be difficult when the hardening involved in Inconel production resists multiple passes on a machine. Welding can also be difficult.
Many modern projects handling Inconel involves a water-jet cutter, or specific kinds of ceramic cutters that can work with precision to shape and cut the alloy. This can be important in developing projects such as prototyping that uses inconel alloy.
Other Types of Alloys
Inconel is by no means the only popular type of alloy used in manufacturing situations. There are many other types of alloys used in manufacturing that are often grouped together by their primary metals.
Aluminum alloys, for example, are also popular in automotive and aerospace projects. Many of the above-mentioned new wheels and hubs are made of aluminum alloys. Aluminum alloys are valuable for many types of cast products. Aluminum and magnesium alloys are both light and flame-resistant.
Titanium alloys are also now popular in manufacturing. The durability of titanium and titanium alloys make this type of alloy a common element in some high-quality consumer products.
Some of the more valuable alloys are commonly used in jewelry. For example, alloyed platinum is a popular alternative to pure gold or silver.
Another popular kind of alloy is copper. For decades, copper has been prized for its electrical and thermal conductivity, its non-sparking qualities, and its overall value for plumbing and electrical applications. It’s also a common part of small stamped parts, a conduit material, and part of printed circuit board designs. Copper alloys including elements like zinc and nickel are common in today’s manufacturing world.
Alloy Parts Production At Weiss-Aug
As a top firm offering custom parts production to a client base, Weiss-Aug understands how to work with inconel and other alloys to manufacture top-quality products. Weiss-Aug provides a full spectrum of metal parts production services, from metal stamping of inconel, Molybdenum, brass, nickel, and stainless steels to secondary processes such as laser welding, coating, heat aging and heat treatment.
Weiss-Aug also has a full lab for testing mechanical properties of metal to ensure product consistency on the production floor. We can test for hardness and tensile strength and for plating thickness on plated material
We work with clients to understand the designs they bring to the table, and to figure out the best metals to use for their application. Improvements to part design can be made from proper material selection. Lastly its important to understand the different requirements and regulations for metal and material selection in medical, aerospace, or defense applications.
Talk to us about your part design, we can help you select the correct base metal, sub type and plating for your metal stamping project.