Nickel alloys: what they are, characteristics and properties

Nickel alloys represent a key category within the metallurgical landscape, with multiple applications in various industries. They are metal alloys in which nickel (Ni) is the main component, often combined with other metals such as iron (Fe), chromium (Cr), manganese (Mn) and molybdenum (Mo) to impart specific properties.

Importance and diffusion of nickel alloys

The importance of nickel alloys stems from their exceptional physical and chemical properties, which make them valuable for a variety of applications. Their resistance to corrosion, oxidation, and high temperatures makes them essential in industries such as aerospace, the chemical industry, electric power, medical device manufacturing, and many others.

The prevalence of nickel alloys is wide and continues to grow as industries constantly seek higher-performing and more reliable materials to meet the needs of the global market.

Introduction: What is nickel?

Nickel (Ni) is a transition metal in group 10 of the periodic table of elements, characterized by a bright silvery color and remarkable corrosion resistance, ideal for use in aggressive environments. It is one of the most common metallic elements found on Earth, with numerous industrial and commercial applications due to its unique properties. Nickel was discovered in the 18th century and has since become an essential component in a wide range of industries, from coin and jewelry production to the chemical, electronics, and aerospace industries.

In addition, nickel exhibits excellent thermal and electrical conductivity properties, making it a key component in many electronic and heating applications. Its ability to form alloys with a wide range of metals, including iron, chromium, molybdenum and cobalt, makes it particularly versatile and adaptable to the specific needs of modern industry. The use of nickel also extends to the field of chemistry, where it finds application as a catalyst in numerous chemical reactions and in the production of industrially important chemical compounds.

Types of nickel alloys

As previously mentioned, nickel alloys are extremely versatile and fall into several categories, each designed to meet specific needs within industrial applications. Below, we will review the main types of nickel alloys and their distinguishing characteristics.

  1. Corrosion-resistant alloys: Corrosion-resistant alloys are often composed mainly of nickel and include metals such as chromium, molybdenum, and iron. For example, Hastelloy alloy C-276 contains nickel, chromium, molybdenum and small amounts of iron and tungsten.
  2. High-temperature alloys: High-temperature alloys, used in high-temperature environments such as gas turbines and chemical reactors, generally consist mainly of nickel, along with metals such as chromium, cobalt, and tungsten. An example is Inconel 718, composed mainly of nickel, chromium, iron, and niobium.
  3. Superalloys: Nickel superalloys are characterized by a combination of elements that impart corrosion resistance, mechanical strength and high temperature resistance. These alloys can include nickel, chromium, cobalt, molybdenum, tungsten, titanium and other metals. One example is Inconel 625, composed mainly of nickel, chromium, molybdenum, and niobium.
  4. Alloys for wires for electrical resistors: Wire alloys for electrical resistors are often composed mainly of nickel, chromium, and iron, with the addition of other metals such as manganese. An example is the Nichrome alloy, composed mainly of nickel, chromium, and iron.
  5. Non-permanent magnetic alloys: Non-permanent magnetic alloys are nickel alloys that also include metals such as iron, cobalt, and copper. An example is the Permalloy alloy, composed mainly of iron and nickel.
  6. Controlled-expansion alloys: Controlled-expansion alloys are designed to have thermal expansion similar to that of nonmetallic materials such as glass or ceramics. These alloys can include nickel, iron, chromium and other metals. An example is the Kovar alloy, composed mainly of nickel, cobalt and iron.

The choice of the most suitable nickel alloy depends on the specific requirements of the application. Some of the factors to consider include the expected operating conditions, such as temperature, pressure and chemical environment, as well as the required properties, such as mechanical strength, corrosion resistance or magnetic properties. It is important to conduct a thorough analysis of the needs of the application and the properties of the different nickel alloys available to select the most appropriate one.

ATP Europe solutions for nickel alloy protection

ATP Europe is committed to providing innovative solutions for protecting and improving the performance of nickel alloys. The following solutions offered by the company are designed to ensure maximum protection and durability of alloys while maintaining their unique properties.

1. Ceramic protective coatings

Ceramic metal protective coatings offered by ATP Europe provide an effective barrier against corrosion, oxidation and wear of nickel alloys. These coatings are applied by advanced physical or chemical deposition techniques, providing high adhesion and uniform coverage on the metal surface. Benefits of ceramic protective coatings include:

  • Excellent resistance to corrosion and oxidation in aggressive environments.
  • Reduction of wear and abrasion of the metal surface.
  • Increased durability and service life of nickel alloys.
  • Possibility of customizing coating characteristics to meet specific application needs.

2. Water-based lubricants for forges

ATP Europe’s water-based forge lubricants are formulated to provide adequate lubrication during the metal forging process of nickel alloys, reducing friction, die wear, and improving the quality of the finished product. These forging lubricants have the following advantages:

  • Reduction of friction and wear during processing of nickel alloys.
  • Improving the efficiency of the forging process and the quality of components produced.
  • Lower environmental impact due to water-based formulation.
  • Compatibility with a wide range of alloys and machining conditions.

3. Borosilicate glass by extrusion

Borosilicate extrusion glass supplied by ATP Europe is designed to coat the dies used in the nickel alloy extrusion process. This protective coating offers the following advantages:

  • Resistance to corrosion and adhesion of nickel alloys during the extrusion process.
  • Reduced wear and tear on molds and equipment.
  • Improved surface finish and dimensional accuracy of extruded products.
  • Increased mold life and durability.

Solutions provided by ATP Europe for the protection and enhancement of nickel alloys offer a combination of advanced technologies, high-quality products, and customized services to ensure maximum performance and durability. Contact us now for more information about our products or to request a free quote!