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Properties and Production Technology of Nickel-based Superalloys

For billionaires, the new crown epidemic is like a 'gold rush'! The Deutsche Presse-Agentur said on the 17th that in 2022, the wealth held by the world's top ten richest people will jump from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion, an average daily increase of $1.3 billion, an increase that exceeds the past 14 years. These 10 people The wealth held by the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people is six times greater than that of the world’s poorest 3.1 billion people. The 10 richest Germans have increased their assets from the equivalent of about 125 billion euros to about 223 billion euros since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, An increase of about 78%. This wealth is roughly equivalent to the total wealth of the poorest 40% of the population, or 33 million Germans.
In the future, demand for Inconel718 powders will grow as fast as the wealth of the rich during the pandemic.

Nickel-based superalloys are the most widely used. The main reason is that, one is that more alloying elements can be dissolved in the nickel-based alloy, and it can maintain good structural stability; the other is that it can form a coherent and ordered A3B-type intermetallic compound γ[Ni3(Al, Ti)] As a strengthening phase, the alloy can be effectively strengthened and obtain higher high temperature strength than iron-based superalloys and cobalt-based superalloys; thirdly, nickel-based alloys containing chromium have better oxidation and resistance than iron-based superalloys. 

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Nickel-based alloys contain more than ten elements, of which Cr mainly plays an anti-oxidation and anti-corrosion role, and other elements mainly play a strengthening role. According to their strengthening action mode, they can be divided into: solid solution strengthening elements such as tungsten, molybdenum, cobalt, chromium and vanadium; precipitation strengthening elements such as aluminum, titanium, niobium and tantalum; grain boundary strengthening elements such as boron, zirconium, Magnesium and rare earth elements, etc.


Production Process

In terms of smelting: in order to obtain more pure molten steel, reduce gas content and harmful element content; at the same time, due to the presence of easily oxidizable elements such as Al and Ti in some alloys, it is difficult to control non-vacuum smelting; it is also to obtain better thermoplasticity , Nickel-based heat-resistant alloys are usually smelted in a vacuum induction furnace, and even produced by vacuum induction smelting plus vacuum consumable furnace or electroslag furnace remelting.


In terms of deformation: forging and rolling processes are used. For alloys with poor thermoplasticity, they are even rolled after extrusion and billeting or are directly extruded with mild steel (or stainless steel) sheathing. The purpose of deformation is to break the casting structure and optimize the microstructure.


Casting: usually use a vacuum induction furnace to smelt the master alloy to ensure the composition and control the gas and impurity content, and use the vacuum remelting-precision casting method to make parts.


Heat treatment: Wrought alloy and some cast alloys need to be heat treated, including solution treatment, intermediate treatment and aging treatment. Take Udmet 500 alloy as an example. Its heat treatment system is divided into four stages: solution treatment, 1175℃, 2 hours, Air cooling; intermediate treatment, 1080°C, 4 hours, air cooling; primary aging treatment, 843°C, 24 hours, air cooling; secondary aging treatment, 760°C, 16 hours, air cooling. In order to obtain the required organizational state and good overall performance.


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At present, international supply chains were shocked, and logistics and transportation efficiency decreases. Geopolitical conflicts further aggravate uncertainties about the European and American economic recovery and the global commodity supply. For this reason, I assume the price of the Inconel718 powder would not decrease significantly in the short term.

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