Cool video: Ceramic head cuts one of the toughest metals in the world

That big block of metal is inconel, an extremely tough "austenitic nickel-chromium-based superalloy," one of the strongest metals known to humans, used in "in extreme environments subjected to pressure and heat" like nuclear plants. How do you cut such a hard thing? Let's watch a video.

That's a ceramic head rotating at very high speed. There are other ways—like water cutters—but only ceramic cutters can machine inconel at high speed.

When heated, Inconel forms a thick, stable, passivating oxide layer protecting the surface from further attack. Inconel retains strength over a wide temperature range, attractive for high temperature applications where aluminum and steel would succumb to creep as a result of thermally-induced crystal vacancies..


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Most commercial jets use inconel for the large (9 inch +) bolts that fit major sections of the plane together. These sections are typical exposed to extreme temperature variations during each flight. Up at 35,000 feet at 500mph extremely cold, down on the tarmac in Summer, extremely hot, inconel doesn't care. This metal is also extremely dense and heavy, so plane manufactures use as little as possible to keep weight down, but it is the right material for the right job.

I would love to start a bike lock company and make the products all out of inconel, you would have to be a Russian metallurgist to find a way to get through this stuff in less then 24 hours. Of course there is that problem with the key/lock part of the lock, I'm working on it.