Nitinol 60

The Magical Material DeMystified


High HardnessHardness from 56 to 62 RC can be achieved
Wear-ResistanceLow friction and high hardness result in long life
Non-MagneticA range of applications require a non-magnetic material
Non-CorrosiveSalt spray tests show no signs of corrosion
Better LubricationOils without corrosion inhibitors may be used to improve boundary lubrication
Lower FrictionThe coefficient of friction is substantially reduced
Reduced WeightParts weigh 15% to 20% less than steel
Higher SpeedsLighter weight reduces centrifugal forces for greater speeds
Tighter TolerancesSuper-fine grain structure achieves closer tolerances
Greater EfficiencyLower weight and friction mean reduced power consumption

The Mystery

The remarkable material known as Nitinol 60 (60% Ni; 40% Ti) was developed by Dr. William Buehler, a Naval Ordnance Laboratory Researcher working on non-corrosive, non-magnetic alloys. During research on these materials, one of the research team members accidentally discovered the memory capability of Nitinol 55 (55% Ni; 45% Ti), a sister alloy. Thereafter, the team devoted efforts toward Nitinol 55 development. Nitinol 60 was effectively abandoned in the late 1950’s, when difficulties in machining and work-hardening were encountered.

A more mysterious history for Nitinol maintains that the material was “discovered” right after a purported UFO crash in Roswell, NM. Development was then initiated by Battelle Memorial Institute in Ohio, whose work was contracted by Wright Patterson AFB- the very base where the alleged crash material was taken. The Abbott Ball Company doesn’t hold to this more exotic theory of Nitinol’s origins, but, the material is certainly extraordinary.


In the more than 50 years since its discovery, there has been very little success in commercializing Nitinol 60. Abbott Ball, with guidance from NASA, has engineered a new, breakthrough material for bearings, gears and other hardware that is hard, wear resistant, non-magnetic, inherently corrosion proof and weighs less than most competing alloys. Abbott took NASA’s microstructure findings and the Nitinol alloy charts to find a way to refine the grain for machining. Most machining occurs before annealing. After proper hardening, parts can be final-machined to extremely tight tolerances and polished to exhibit a mirror-like finish. Such a soughtafter material could revolutionize many aspects of engineering and manufacturing, with products and machines for aerospace, energy production, and medical devices.

The Miracle Material

Corrosion and premature wear of bearings, gears and mechanical components account for a major portion of machine replacements encountered in surface, marine and air transportation systems. Prior to Nitinol 60, there was no known material with the ability to withstand corrosive elements that was sufficiently hard for bearing or gear tooth surfaces. Carbide has both wear and corrosion resistance, but is brittle, difficult to work, and costly to machine. 440C Stainless is widely used for corrosion-resistant gears and bearings, but will rust if not protected from the envi