Protolabs launches high-performance 3D printing alloy

Protolabs, the digital manufacturing source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts, has announced the addition of Inconel 718 to its growing list of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) materials.

The addition further establishes the Telford-based company’s reputation within the aerospace sector for boasting a highly impressive range of metals available for rapid prototyping and functional end-use parts with complex geometries.

Due to the high strength and corrosion resistant properties of the material, along with its ability to be used at extreme temperatures, Inconel 718 is a proven superalloy in the development of turbojet engines for aircraft, among a variety of other applications.  

Daniel Cohn, general manager of 3D Printing Services at Protolabs, commented: “Other manufacturing methods sacrifice some of the material properties of Inconel, therefore I am delighted that Protolabs is now able to offer this material through 3D printing.

“Combining the exceptional properties of the material with our expertise in DMLS means we are able to rapidly produce complex geometries for parts, which are exposed to the harsh environments often found in the aerospace sector.”

As a nickel-based heat resistant alloy, Inconel 718 can be used at temperatures between -252°C and 704°C. Its strength is derived from its ability to create a thick, stable passivating oxide layer at high temperatures, protecting the material from further attack. It also has good tensile, fatigue, creep and rupture strength.

Inconel’s properties make it ideal for the aerospace sector, specifically in the production of parts for turbojet engines. For example, this could be discs, blades and casings, along with rocket engine components and related equipment.