The History and Use of Monel Alloy

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Stainless steel

What is monel and is monel magnetic? If you’re interested in metals, their history, and their uses, read on to find out more about this fascinating metal.

  • What is monel? If the name sounds a bit odd, that’s because it was named after a person. Monel is an alloy with a base of nickel and copper and various types and amounts of other additives.
  • Where did monel come from? It was created by a metallurgist in the early 1900s. He names it for the director of the International Nickel Company. The creator, Robert Stanley, later became the director himself.
  • Why is monel useful? The great thing about monel is how resistant it is to corrosion, and that was the point of making it. Also, is monel magnetic? No, not at most temperatures, which is another benefit. Monel is quite strong. Some types of these nickel alloys can keep shape and strength even at extreme temperatures up to 2,372 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • What is monel used in? They are all over, and nickel use is growing by 4% a year, and the use of stainless steel containing nickel is growing by 6% a year. When it was first invented, it was used for roofing, sinks, appliances and many other applications. Eventually, many of these uses were replaced by stainless steel, which is more versatile than monel. However, there are still plenty of applications where only Monel will do. It’s especially common to find it anywhere that corrosion resistance is needed, such as in the presence of chemicals, in aerospace, or in for deep sea use. If you ever need to hear a “no” to the question “is monel easily corroded?” or “is monel magnetic?” you’ll find it being used.
  • How many kinds of monel are there? There are six types, most going by names like Nickel 400m Nickel 405, or Nickel 500. They all have around 63% nickel and between 27% and 34% copper. Each has other unique combinations of alloys that give it other properties, such as strength at even higher temperatures, or better machinability.
  • Is monel magnetic? This is a popular question, and it’s not uncommon for something to worry that they’ve not gotten true monel due to detecting trace magnetism. Normally, the answer to “is monel magnetic” is “no.” However, at cryogenic temperatures, it can become magnetic. Usually, trace magnetism is due to other metals being used in joints and fasteners around the monel.
    Some monel may be slightly magnetic at other temperatures, depending on the temperature at the time it was alloyed, but normally it isn’t strong enough to matter.

Monel is a very useful alloy for aerospace, nuclear undersea vessels, oil refinery piping, and sulfuric acid plants. It’s also used for more mundane applications like musical instruments and exposed metals in important buildings. It might be something you’d never heard of before; but there’s likely some near you right now!

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