Additive manufacturing of metals allows to reduce drastically the cost per unit and the delivery time. It also allows to achieve high levels of complexity with almost no limitation in terms of design. The ideas can flow directly from the engineering team to production facilities and then testing within days instead of weeks before.
What is Inconel ?
Nowaday, Inconel is still largely used in the aerospace industry as a key component of the combustion chamber in a jet engine. It is usually coated with a ceramic material that can help withstand the high temperature. More recently, oil and gas extraction industries have been using it thanks to its ability to tolerate corrosive gases. We can as well find it in NASCAR exhaust systems.
Turbine blades for jet engines applications made out of Inconel – Safran Group
In depth properties of 3D printed Inconel
This superalloy stands out from other metals thanks to its excellent resistance to oxidation and corrosion. This means that Inconel is widely used in extreme environments such as nuclear or aerospace.
The corrosion resistance properties of Inconel can be attributed to the thick passivation layer that forms through oxidation on its surface at high temperatures. This makes it a material that is a class apart from its aluminum and steel counterparts.
Oxidation happens when oxygen interacts with a material, for example, a metal. On the other hand, corrosion is the deterioration of a material. Oxidation can lead to the formation of rust on the surface of the metal. Corrosion can also be caused by acidic environments or other chemicals.
The great mechanical properties Inconel exhibits at high temperatures are based on intermetallic compounds. Those compounds are small cubic crystals in the material, which inhibits slip and creep.
The two most popular alloys we see in the market today are Inconel 718 and 625. The chemical composition of Inconel 718 includes molybdenum, niobium and tantalum, aluminum and titanium. 625 alloy is chemically composed of nickel, chromium and molybdenum.
The difference in the chemical compositions causes a variation in the properties of the two alloys – namely oxidation and corrosion resistance. This means that both alloys are used for different purposes.
The 625 alloy is a perfect fit for jet engines, heat exchangers, turbine rings and pressure valves applications among others. This variety of Inconel is also known to show resistance to sea water and harsh chemicals.
The counterpart of 625, 718, has high corrosion resistance. That combined with its strength and hardness makes it suitable for oil and gas industries.
Additive Manufacturing of Inconel
Since machining of Inconel is not easy because of work hardening, it is advised to use 3D printing to shape the part.
3D printing of Inconel is done with powder bed fusion (which is more commonly known as SLM or DMLS). Less prevalent but also very important technologies for additive manufacturing of Inconel are direct energy deposition (DED) and binder jetting (BJ).
Powder bed fusion techniques use an electron beam or laser to melt the powder material. It forms one layer at a time. After the beam travels further, the melted zone quickly cools down and solidifies. If done for enough layers, a finished part is the outcome.
3D printed part made out of Inconel – Materialise
Industrial applications of 3D printed Inconel
These materials are great for gas turbines for aerospace, oil and gas, ships, energy industry, chemical industries and automobile industry. The Papadakis Racing team from California built a large turbo manifold 3D printed for its latest racing car. Here is a short video where they explain how they scanned, designed, finished and assembled the model.
Choose Inconel now and request a quote
Have you thought of using Inconel for manufacturing your part ? If your are looking for a durable corrosion and oxidation resistant metal, Inconel can be a great match !
Contact Beamler now to get your Inconel quote
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