Ever wanted to be a rich playboy millionaire celebrated for fighting against all the injustice and evil in the world? Ever wanted to be Iron Man? If so, you’ll need your own toys and weapons. Moreover, if you’re going to design them – just like Tony Stark – you’ll need a clutch of metals in your arsenal and a good knowledge of how to use them. Superalloys could be your best friend.
What is an alloy?
The Oxford English dictionary tells us that an alloy is made when you combine two or more metals. This combination can provide an end result that may be stronger than before, that may last longer than normal metal and may resist corrosion far better. However, this still may not be enough. If you want to be a superhero you’ll need something stronger. Welcome to the superalloy; this is where the real power lies.
Why a super alloy?
According to Wikipedia, superalloys take things that one step further. These are alloys that can perform under all types of pressure. They tend to be able to withstand really high temperatures (great for fending off the intergalactic god, Loki) and they don’t tend to deform or move under great stress (useful in that Iron Man suit). Superalloys usually have a base of nickel or cobalt and examples include Inconel and Hastelloy.
The development of superalloys has mainly been through the engine and aerospace industries where they were developed to build turbine blades or engine valves – something every superhero must rely on. Inconel alloys, for instance, were developed in the 1940s in England to build jet engines. Inconel – a nickel chromium mix – forms a thick, stable oxide layer when it is heated, which helps protect the metal even further against the high pressure and kinetic energy it may encounter in its application.
Inconel is a perfect superalloy for any exacting superhero because it requires patience and good craftsmanship (it is a notoriously difficult metal to shape with traditional methods because it tends to harden in the process). There are a number available on the market, with different properties for your different requirements. High-quality commercial or industrial grade Inconel 718 bar for instance has good weldability. It might let you give Tony Stark a run for his money…