Choose Best Inconel 718 Powder Supplier

Inconel 718 is a high-strength, corrosion-resistant nickel chromium alloy used extensively in aerospace, nuclear, and other high-temperature applications. When in powder form, Inconel 718 can be used in metal additive manufacturing processes like selective laser melting (SLM) and electron beam melting (EBM) to create complex parts with superior mechanical properties compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

This guide will provide a detailed overview of Inconel 718 powder, its applications, advantages, buying considerations, top suppliers, and more.

Overview of Inconel 718 Powder

Inconel 718 powder is a fine metallic powder form of the nickel-chromium based superalloy. The key characteristics of Inconel 718 powder include:

Table 1: Overview of Inconel 718 Powder

PropertiesDetails
CompositionNickel, Chromium, Iron, Niobium, Molybdenum, Titanium, Aluminum
Particle ShapeSpherical, satellite, truncated spheroidal
Size Range15-45 microns
Melting Point1260-1336°C
Density8.19 g/cm3
Key AdvantagesHigh strength, Good corrosion resistance, Excellent creep and fatigue resistance, Outstanding weldability and machinability, Retains mechanical properties at elevated temperatures
Common ApplicationsAerospace components – blades, discs, shafts, Airframes, Rocket motors, Nuclear reactors, Petrochemical equipment, Gas turbines

The unique combination of properties like high tensile strength, resistance to creep, stress rupture, and outstanding corrosion resistance make Inconel 718 suitable for extreme operating conditions. The fine particle size allows intricate shapes and components to be 3D printed.

Applications and Uses of Inconel 718 Powder

Inconel 718 powder has become indispensable in industries like aerospace, nuclear, oil & gas, chemical processing, and power generation due to its capability to withstand prolonged exposure to high temperatures and pressures.

Table 2: Applications and Uses of Inconel 718 Powder

IndustryComponents and Parts
AerospaceTurbine blades, discs, shafts, casings, fasteners, bellows, rocket motors
NuclearReactor vessels, heat exchangers, fasteners, springs
Oil & Gas, PetrochemicalWellhead equipment, downhole tools, valves, heat exchangers, piping, reaction vessels
Power GenerationGas turbine hot section parts, combustors, transition ducts, heat shields
AutomotiveTurbocharger rotors, valves, exhaust manifolds
BiomedicalJoint replacements, surgical instruments, dental implants

The ability to additively manufacture intricate, mission-critical components using Inconel 718 has expanded its applications further. Parts with conformal cooling, lightweight lattice structures, and complex geometries can now be fabricated more easily.

Best Inconel 718 Powder

Types of Inconel 718 Powder

Inconel 718 powder is commercially available in several particle size distributions, shapes, and manufacturing processes.

Table 3: Types of Inconel 718 Powder

TypeDescriptionCharacteristics
Gas AtomizedMade by inert gas atomization processSpherical morphology, Smooth surface, Narrow particle size distribution 15-45 μm
Water AtomizedWater atomization methodIrregular shape, Satellite particles, Wide distribution 5-150 μm
Plasma AtomizedPlasma heating and gas atomizationVery spherical particles, Satellite free, 15-45 μm distribution
Rotating Electrode ProcessElectrode rotated at high speeds and melted by arc/plasmaTruncated spheroidal shape, Smooth surface, 15-106 μm distribution
Hydride-DehydrideAlloy is hydrogenated and dehydrogenatedIrregular shape, Porous surface, Wide size range

Gas atomized and plasma atomized powders with high sphericity and smooth surface produce best additive manufacturing results. However, cost is a key factor in selecting the ideal Inconel 718 powder type.

Specifications of Inconel 718 Powder

Inconel 718 powder must conform to exacting standards for chemical composition, particle characteristics, microstructure, and quality checks.

Table 4: Specifications of Inconel 718 Powder

ParameterSpecification
Chemical Composition (wt%)Ni 50-55%, Cr 17-21%, Nb 4.75-5.5%, Mo 2.8-3.3%, Ti 0.65-1.15%, Al 0.2-0.8%, C 0.08% max
Particle shapeSpherical, spheroidal
Apparent density4-5 g/cm3
Tap density7-8 g/cm3
FlowabilityAngle of repose ≤ 30°
Particle size15-45 μm
Oxygen content0.1% max
Nitrogen content0.1% max
MicrostructureHomogeneous, few satellite particles
Surface morphologySmooth, little to no porosity
CertificationISO 9001, AS9100

Maintaining powder to these specifications ensures repeatable, high-quality printing results. Trusted global brands continuously conduct quality assurance testing to verify powder composition and characteristics.

Design Considerations for Inconel 718 Parts

Several design factors must be optimized when additive manufacturing components from Inconel 718 powder:

Table 5: Inconel 718 Part Design Considerations

FactorDescription
Part orientationOptimal orientation for residual stress reduction and mechanical performance.
Support structuresUse thin, optimized supports to minimize raw material use.
Wall thickness1-2 mm range allows good properties and reduced weight.
Surface finishMay require post-processing like machining, grinding, or shot peening.
Hot isostatic pressingCan close internal pores and enhance tensile strength.
Heat treatmentSolution annealing and aging achieves optimal microstructure.
Surface treatmentApply suitable coatings or surfaces if wear/corrosion resistance needed.

Simulating builds virtually, testing parameters, and working closely with experts is key to designing high-performance end-use parts with Inconel 718.

Standards and Codes for Inconel 718 Powder

Globally recognized standards for composition, testing methods, quality control, powder production, and part qualification govern Inconel 718 powder.

Table 6: Major Standards for Inconel 718 Powder

StandardDescription
AMS 5662Chemical composition and manufacturer testing
AMS 5663Heat treatment procedures
ASTM B899Analysis and chemical requirements
ISO 9001Quality management system
AS9100DAerospace quality management
ASTM F3056Standard specification for additive manufacturing powder
ASTM F3301Properties for laser powder bed fusion
ASTM F3318Particle characterization, flow properties

Compliance with standards assures users that the Inconel 718 powder and printed parts will perform reliably and safely in service.

Inconel 718 Powder Suppliers

Many leading metal powder manufacturers supply Inconel 718 powder for additive manufacturing and thermal spray processes.

Table 7: Major Suppliers of Inconel 718 Powder

CompanyPowder TypeParticle SizeKey Properties
SandvikGas atomized15-45 μmHigh purity, Spherical, Smooth surface
Carpenter AdditiveGas atomized15-53 μmExcellent flowability
PraxairAtomized15-106 μmSpherical, Low oxygen content
AP&CPlasma atomized10-45 μmHigh dense prints, No satellites
HöganäsGas atomized53-180 μmTight size distribution
SLM SolutionsGas atomized15-45 μmOptimized for SLM process

When selecting a supplier, consider technical expertise, industry reputation, range of atomization processes offered, particle size ranges, strict quality control, and metal powder safety.

How to Choose an Inconel 718 Powder Supplier

Follow these steps for choosing a suitable Inconel 718 powder supplier:

Table 8: How to Choose an Inconel 718 Powder Supplier

StepAction
1Determine application, industry, part specifications
2Research capabilities of various suppliers
3Evaluate available powder varieties – atomization method, size range, morphology
4Assess supplier experience, expertise level with Inconel alloys
5Consider location, logistics, delivery times
6Review conformance to major powder and printing standards
7Compare pricing, minimum order quantities
8Check supplier quality certifications like ISO 9001, AS9100D
9Validate product quality data, inspection reports
10Run trial prints with powder samples if possible

Choosing an established industry leader helps ensure optimal powder quality and properties for superior end-use part performance.

Best Inconel 718 Powder

Installing and Maintaining Powder Bed Printers

Proper installation and maintenance is key to achieving consistent, high-quality 3D printed parts with Inconel 718 powder:

Table 9: Installation and Maintenance of Printers for Inconel 718

ActivityDescription
InstallationLevel printer, connect utilities, remove transport locks per manufacturer instructions
Chamber purgeUse argon or nitrogen to reduce oxygen level below 25 ppm
Leak checkTest for leaks to prevent contamination during builds
Parameter optimizationEstablish ideal laser power, speed, hatch spacing, layer thickness for material through test builds
Storage and handlingStore powder in sealed containers under inert gas, minimize exposure to air and moisture
SievingRegularly sieve powder to break up agglomerates and improve flowability
Metal powder safetyUse protective equipment, minimize fire risks, dispose according to regulations
System calibrationValidate laser power meter, optical focuser, powder layer thickness device periodically
MaintenanceFollow OEM service schedule, replace filters, clean optics, lubricate moving parts

Partnering with the printer manufacturer for installation, training, and preventative maintenance ensures maximum printer productivity and performance.

Operating Procedures for Inconel 718 Printing

Standard operating procedures for printing with Inconel 718 powder help achieve consistent, quality parts:

Table 10: Operating Procedures for Inconel 718 Printing

StageProcedure
Pre-printConfirm powder quantity, seal containers, check build platform, nozzle, recoater blade condition
PrintingVerify inert gas levels, preheat printer, load optimized parameters, setup monitoring cameras
Powder spreadingLevel powder bed, ensure uniform thickness across full area
Post-printAllow components and powder bed to cool fully before removing parts
Powder recoveryCarefully sieve and collect un-melted powder for reuse
Post-processingRemove supports, shot peen, machine critical surfaces, apply finishing treatment if needed
Part inspectionCheck dimensions, internal structure with CT scans, verify mechanical properties through testing

Documenting the entire workflow beginning from powder receipt helps identify improvements to the printing process over time for maximum efficiency.

Procuring and Managing Inconel 718 Powder Inventory

Efficiently managing Inconel 718 powder inventory and costs involves:

Table 11: Inconel 718 Powder Inventory Management

ActivityDescription
Forecasting demandEstimate upcoming projects and part quantities needed
Optimizing ordersOrder during lead time, factoring shipping, but minimize stock holding
Secured storageStore unopened containers in inert gas storage cabinet
Inventory trackingLog powder receipts, builds, reuse and disposals
FIFO methodUse oldest powder first to avoid waste from expiry
Monitoring stockReplenish inventory when it approaches reorder point
Recycling powderSieve and reuse un-melted powder up to 5-10 times
DisposalFollow regulations like 30 CFR 250.300 for spent metallic powder

Order quantities based on a 6-12 month demand forecast balance low inventory costs and production flexibility.

Cost Analysis of Inconel 718 Powder

Inconel 718 powder is more expensive than stainless or tool steel powders due to material rarity and complex processing:

Table 12: Inconel 718 Powder Cost Analysis

Cost ComponentDetails
MaterialNiobium content drives alloy raw material costs
AtomizationInert gas atomization has high capital and operating costs
Additional processingPlasma atomization, RH degassing, gas purification add costs
Quality controlMaintaining powder specifications requires extensive testing
CertificationISO 9001 registration and ongoing audit fees
Inventory and logisticsHigh value material ties up working capital, transport costs

Prices range from $80-150 per kg depending on order size, supplier capabilities, and geographic region. Printer OEMs may offer discounted pricing for high volume contracts.

While expensive, Inconel 718 powder delivers superior performance justifying the higher price for critical applications.

Advantages and Limitations of Inconel 718 Powder

Some key advantages and limitations when using Inconel 718 powder include:

Table 13: Advantages and Limitations of Inconel 718 Powder

AdvantagesLimitations
Excellent tensile, fatigue and creep resistance at high temperaturesRelatively high material cost
Outstanding corrosion resistance in various environmentsHigher density increases component weight
High hardenability for greater strengthMore difficult to fully dense prints requiring optimized parameters
Perform well under prolonged stress and serviceLimited suppliers compared to steels
Retains room temperature properties up to 700°CHigher tendency for cracking during printing
Can be forged, welded and machinedSubject to natural aging, reducing shelf life
Powder recyclability lowers costsSusceptible to porosity issues in prints

For critical high-performance applications where failure is not an option, Inconel 718’s superb capabilities justify the higher price and challenging printing process.

Frequently Asked Questions about Inconel 718 Powder

Q: What particle size range is optimal for printing Inconel 718 powder?

A: 15-45 microns is recommended, ensuring good powder bed density and flowability. Ultrafine <15 um powder can cause dust issues while large >45 um powder negatively affects resolution.

Q: Does Inconel 718 require hot isostatic pressing (HIP) post-processing?

A: HIP helps close internal pores and optimizes mechanical properties. But well-calibrated printers can achieve near full density without HIP.

Q: How many times can Inconel 718 powder be reused?

A: With proper handling and sieving, Inconel 718 powder can be reused 5-10 times before renewed. This improves cost-efficiency.

Q: Which provides better properties – wrought or printed Inconel 718?

A: Printed parts perform comparably or better than wrought properties after proper heat treatment and HIP. However surface finish is lower without machining.

Q: Can Inconel 718 parts be welded to themselves or other metals?

A: Yes, Inconel 718 has excellent weldability. Special nickel-alloy filler material must be used for best results.

Best Inconel 718 Powder

Conclusion

With its high strength across a wide temperature range, outstanding corrosion properties, and suitability for additive manufacturing, Inconel 718 has become a staple in aerospace, nuclear, and high performance applications. Using fine Inconel 718 powder allows intricate, optimized geometries to be fabricated through laser or e-beam printing.

However, properties and performance are highly dependent on source material quality, appropriate printer settings, rigorous quality control, and standardized post-processing. By choosing a reputable supplier, following best practices, and optimizing part design, users can leverage the full potential of this versatile nickel superalloy for their specific needs. The higher powder costs are justified for critical applications where failure is unacceptable.

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