Inconel Machining

Inconel Machining – Overview and Tips

At Superior Machining, we specialize in Inconel machining and have developed and mastered an approach which will create your product with high quality, consistency, and on a timely basis.

What is Inconel Machining?

Inconel refers to a family of superalloys characterized by their high nickel content and their extreme resistance to oxidation, corrosion, and scaling in high-temperature environments.

These characteristics make Inconel superalloys an ideal choice for use in extreme environments such as those found in the aerospace, marine, and chemical processing industries.

While Inconel’s strength and resistance to high temperatures make it the ideal choice for use in extreme environments, it also poses major challenges for those who must machine it.

Inconel metals maintain their tensile strength at temperatures that would render plain steel pliable. As a result, Inconel machining requires high cutting forces and a highly developed skill set to make sure it is done correctly on a consistent, repeatable basis. Superior Steel Fabrications has those skill sets and capabilities.

To properly work with Inconel takes an understanding of its properties and how to compensate for its limitations. To further understand our process, here are some tips we utilize in Inconel machining.

Regularly Checking for Signs of Wear

Tooling can only last for so long when used on materials as tough as Inconel. Even the toughest tooling will wear down over time from the surface hardness of Inconel. When Inconel is work-hardened, tooling can wear out as heat and pressure builds. Regularly inspecting tooling is critical for maximizing quality in Inconel machining.

Starting with a Solutionized Metal

Solutionizing is the process of heating a metal alloy to form a homogeneous solid solution.  Cold-drawing metal hardens the work surface and makes Inconel even harder to work, causing more stress to tooling. Starting with a solutionized piece of Inconel is optimal because it helps to limit the amount of work hardening which reduces the wear on machining tools.

Ceramic Cutting Tools for Continuous Cuts

Being able to make fast, continuous cuts is important for minimizing the risk of work hardening to occur mid-process. It is recommended that ceramic cutting tools be used when working high-nickel alloys in order to achieve long, uninterrupted cuts.

Avoid Peck Drilling with Inconel

In machining, pecking is a drilling process of repeatedly inserting the drill bit part way into the material and retracting until the hole is finished. This method, when used on Inconel, can cause work hardening and extra wear on tools. This is because as the repeated pecks hit the Inconel it causes dislocations in the microstructure of the material and makes the surface even harder.

All of the characteristics of Inconel alloys that make them the ideal choice in harsh environments also make them extremely difficult to machine into a desired final shape.

Fortunately, the experts at Superior Steel Fabrication have extensive knowledge and experience in Inconel Machining.

If you are in need of Inconel machining, or metal fabrication of any kind, contact Superior Steel Fabrication today!