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Exotic Nickel-Based Metals for Use in Harsh Conditions

Super duty alloys, or exotic nickel-based metals, are often the only choice a company has when it is seeking materials that can stand up to harsh conditions. Industries like oil refining, aviation, energy generation, and heavy manufacturing have to contend with a variety of severe conditions that exceed the limits of common metals and cause damage. Super duty alloys are often a solution to these challenges because they carry properties that make them highly resistant to corrosion, acids, and oxidation. 

Below we describe the characteristics and applications of some of the most widely used exotic nickel-based metals.

5 Exotic Nickel-Based Metals for Harsh Conditions 

Nickel-based metals are often chosen for harsh, high-temperature environments. The addition of alloying elements like chromium, aluminum, boron, or zirconium adds more corrosion or oxidation resistance. While countless alloys could potentially be used for such severe conditions, local demand focuses on five exotic nickel-based metals. 




This nickel-iron combination is named for its invariable nature, in that it holds its shape in a variety of temperature changes. It’s a combination of approximately 64% iron and 36% nickel. This is one of the earliest creations of exotic nickel-based metals for harsh conditions, developed in 1896 by Swiss scientist Charles Édouard Guillaume.  Invar is ideal when the dimensional precision of a part is critical. It’s found in electrical components, circuits, satellites, watches, clocks, and tools for measuring seismic creep. If the situation calls for parts or components that will maintain their size and shape under widely varying temperature conditions, then Invar is likely the best choice. 


Inconel covers a family of nickel-chromium-based alloys that are highly heat- and corrosion-resistant. It was developed in the 1940s by Higgens Alloy. Today, its trademark is owned by Special Metals Corporation. It’s capable of holding its tensile strength in temperatures as high as 2,000°F.  This metal is frequently used in the aerospace industry, where parts face extreme temperatures and pressures. It can be found in jet engine exhaust systems, gas turbine blades, combustors, and steam generators. It also has nuclear industry applications in pressurized water reactors. In the automotive industry, it’s used in high-performance vehicles. 


Monel combines several elements with its nickel base, including silicon, carbon, iron, and manganese. It is another material whose trademark is owned by the Special Metals Corporation and was originally developed in 1906. It is highly acid- and corrosion-resistant, with some alloys also ideal in extremely low-temperature applications.  Monel’s high acid-resistance makes it ideal for components in oil production and refinery operations. It’s also suitable in piping and wiring in both aerospace and marine applications. Another unique use is in higher quality musical instruments, specifically for valve pistons and rotors in wind instruments as well as guitar strings.  


Hastelloy combines nickel and molybdenum to create a heat- and corrosion-resistant alloy with diverse uses. It’s resilient in the face of oxidizing and reducing agents. Unlike many other exotic nickel-based metals, it’s forgeable, cold workable, and weldable.   This alloy is used frequently in chemical processing and petrochemical industries. It’s also finding new applications as a result of the growing interest in the geothermal and solar energy industries. 


Cupronickel is technically a copper alloy that contains nickel. It’s very similar to Monel, though Monel has a higher percentage of nickel. It’s corrosion-resistant, durable, and a good electrical conductor. It holds up very well when in contact with seawater, making it ideal for marine uses.  This is one of the top choices for marine engineering operations due to its high saltwater resistance. It also has nuclear industry applications in the use of high-pressure pre-heaters. Due to its low allergy risk and malleability, it’s also used in the development of coins. 

Cost-Effective, Local Supply of Nickel-Based Metals

x-rayThese exotic nickel-based metals are in demand by San Francisco Bay Area machinists, fabricators, and welders. However, it’s not always possible to find these metals at competitive prices, especially if you need a small quantity or a one-time supply for a special project. An increasing number of shops are finding they can source these alloys at lower costs through a local metal recycler and supplier specializing in usable, verified metal remnants. 

Industrial Metal Service focuses on the “ultimate recycling” of high-quality metal remnants to allow shops to obtain the supply they need for production without the expense of sourcing new metals directly from a mill. These remnants are verified using x-ray fluorescence technology. 

For more than two decades we’ve built a reputation as a local supplier of industrial metals—nickel-based metals, as well as aluminum, steel, copper, and titanium for fabricators, manufacturers, welders, and machine shops in the Bay Area.  

Our extensive inventory of exotic metals can ensure you get the pieces you need at a price you can afford. Give us a call to discuss your needs. We welcome the opportunity to become a value-added partner in your business.

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Published by IMS Team

Industrial Metal Service has decades of experience and over 1.1 billion pounds of metal sold and recycled. Our founder, Jeff, has spent his life in the industry and prides himself on offering fair, efficient, trustworthy, knowledgeable, outstanding customer service. We offer metal salesmetal recycling pickup service, and other associated services, such as precise metal sawing, machinery teardown, and warehouse cleanupGive us a call and we’ll get it done.