Inconel® is a material that is specifically optimized for some of the toughest use conditions to be found in manufacturing. Even compared to stainless steel, Inconel® has an incredibly high tolerance for extreme heat, and doesn’t lose as much tensile strength at 2,000°F as most varieties of steel.
However, Inconel® is an expensive material, one which is best reserved for the right use conditions where other materials won’t work as well. With this in mind, here are a few examples of uses for Inconel® over most formulations of stainless steel:
Heat Treat Applications
Inconel® is famously resistant to extreme temperatures, and retains enough tensile strength at high temperature to continue holding moderate loads (Inconel 625® retains 13.3 ksi at 2,000°F). This makes Inconel® the ideal basket material for heat treat applications—comparing favorably to stainless steels such as Grade 304, 316, and 330.
Compared to most stainless steel alloys, a basket made from Inconel® won’t lose shape as easily when holding parts through a rigorous heat treat application.
Rapid Temperature Changes
Some manufacturing processes may combine high and low temperature processes in rapid succession. Most Inconel® alloys retain excellent oxidation resistance at high and low temperatures, allowing a single basket made from Inconel to be used in processes where temperatures vary between near-cryogenic lows and heat treatment highs.
When Exposure to Saltwater is a Concern
Inconel® is often used in marine applications because of its extraordinary resistance to sodium chloride (salt) at a variety of temperatures. So, for processes that use salt or factory locations near the ocean, Inconel® can be ideal for a parts washing basket.
However, some stainless steel alloys also exhibit excellent resistance to saltwater. So, when would Inconel® be considered preferable?
Generally speaking, Inconel® would only be much more useful than grade 316 stainless steel if extreme temperatures in excess of 1,000°F would be a concern as well. Inconel® would retain its oxidation resistance better at high temperatures than 316 SS would.
Some of Marlin’s manufacturing clients might use Inconel® in the construction of jet engines and turbines.
Jet Engines are unique in that they have to withstand extreme temperatures both high and low frequently during use. As noted on the meteorology training website, at 36,000 ft. (well within a passenger jet’s standard cruising altitude), the average air temperature is -56.3°C (-69.3°F), but the combustion process can exceed temperatures of 1,150°C (2120°F).
Cooling technologies are used to rapidly reduce temperatures, but temperatures can still easily exceed the tolerances of many metals. Inconel 600® retains high oxidation resistance and tensile strength despite rapid changes in temperature from the combustion process and cooling technologies employed in the aerospace industry.
Basically, Inconel® is an ideal material whenever extreme temperature and chemical resistance are a must, and for any process where temperature highs would normally degrade the oxidation resistance of other metals.
However, Inconel® isn’t the only answer to different parts handling basket engineering challenges. To get the best basket for the job, it’s important to consider every aspect of your manufacturing process and needs compared to the capabilities of numerous types of metal.
Learn more about how Marlin's engineers create the perfect baskets for a variety of manufacturing needs today!