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Inconel is a registered trademark of Special Metals Corporation that refers to a family of austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloys [1]. Inconel alloys are typically used in high temperature applications. It is often referred to in English as "Inco" (or occasionally "Iconel"). Common trade names for Inconel include: Inconel 625, Chronin 625, Altemp 625, Haynes 625, Nickelvac 625 and Nicrofer 6020.[2]



Different Inconels have widely varying compositions, but all are predominantly nickel, with chromium as the second element.

Inconel Element (% by mass)
Nickel Chromium Iron Molybdenum Niobium Cobalt Manganese Copper Aluminium Titanium Silicon Carbon Sulfur Phosphorus Boron
600 [3] 72.0 14.0-17.0 6.0-10.0 1.0 0.5 0.5 0.15 0.015
625 [4] 58.0 20.0-23.0 5.0 8.0-10.0 3.15-4.15 1.0 0.5 0.4 0.4 0.5 0.1 0.015 0.015
718 [5] 50.0-55.0 17.0-21.0 balance 2.8-3.3 4.75-5.5 1.0 0.35 0.2-0.8 0.65-1.15 0.3 0.35 0.08 0.015 0.015 0.006


Inconel alloys are oxidation and corrosion resistant materials well suited for service in extreme environments. When heated, Inconel forms a thick, stable, passivating oxide layer protecting the surface from further attack. Inconel retains strength over a wide temperature range, attractive for high temperature applications where aluminum and steel would succumb to creep as a result of thermally-induced crystal vacancies (see Arrhenius equation). Inconel's high temperature strength is developed by solid solution strengthening or precipitation strengthening, depending on the alloy. In age hardening or precipitation strengthening varieties, small amounts of niobium combine with nickel to form the intermetallic compound Ni3Nb or gamma prime (γ'). Gamma prime forms small cubic crystals that inhibit slip and creep effectively at elevated temperatures.


Inconel is a difficult metal to shape and machine using traditional techniques due to rapid work hardening. After the first machining pass, work hardening tends to elastically deform either the workpiece or the tool on subsequent passes. For this reason, age-hardened Inconels such as 718 are machined using an aggressive but slow cut with a hard tool, minimizing the number of passes required. Alternatively, the majority of the machining can be performed with the workpiece in a solutionised form, with only the final steps being performed after age-hardening. External threads are machined using a lathe to "single point" the threads, or by rolling the threads using a screw machine. Holes with internal threads are made by welding or brazing threaded inserts made of stainless steel. Cutting of plate is often done with a waterjet cutter. Internal threads can also be cut by single point method on lathe, or by threadmilling on a machining center. New whisker reinforced ceramic cutters are also used to machine nickel alloys. They remove material at a rate typically 8 times faster than carbide cutters. 718 Inconel can also be roll threaded after full aging by using induction heat to 1300 degrees F without increasing grain size.


Welding inconel alloys is difficult due to cracking and microstructural segregation of alloying elements in the heat affected zone. However, several alloys have been designed to overcome these problems. The most common welding method is gas tungsten arc welding.[6]

New innovations in pulsed micro laser welding have also become more popular in recent years.


Inconel is often encountered in extreme environments. It is common in gas turbine blades, seals, and combustors, as well as turbocharger rotors and seals, electric submersible well pump motor shafts, high temperature fasteners, chemical processing and pressure vessels, heat exchanger tubing, steam generators in nuclear pressurized water reactors, natural gas progressing with contaminants such as H2S and CO2, firearm sound suppressor blast baffles, and Formula One and NASCAR exhaust systems.[7][8] Inconel is increasingly used in the boilers of waste incinerators[9].

North American Aviation constructed the skin of the X-15 rocket plane out of an Inconel alloy known as "Inconel X".[10]

Inconel alloys

  • Inconel 600: Solid solution strengthened
  • Inconel 625: Acid resistant, good weldability
  • Inconel 690: Low cobalt content for nuclear applications
  • Inconel 718: Gamma double prime strengthened with good weldability
  • Inconel 751: Increased aluminum content for improved rupture strength in the 1600° F range[11]
  • Inconel 939: Gamma prime strengthened with good weldability


  1. ^ High-Performance Alloys, Special Metals Corporation
  2. ^ Special Alloys, Source 1 Alloys
  3. ^ INCONEL alloy 600, Special Metals Corporation
  4. ^ INCONEL alloy 625, Special Metals Corporation
  5. ^ INCONEL alloy 718, Special Metals Corporation
  6. ^ Joining,, retrieved 2009-10-09  .
  7. ^ Power Generation, Special Metals Corporation.
  8. ^ Chemical Processing, Special Metals Corporation.
  9. ^ Inconell - state-of-the-art corrosion protection by Babcock & Wilcox Vølund, 2003
  10. ^ Robert S. Houston, Richard P. Hallion, and Ronald G. Boston, EDITOR'S INTRODUCTION, "Transiting from Air to Space: The North American X-15", The Hypersonic Revolution: Case Studies in the History of Hypersonic Technology, Air Force History and Museums Program, 1998.
  11. ^ INCONEL alloy 751, Special Metals Corporation


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