The story of Haynes International spans a century of products, processes and, most of all, people. Formed in Kokomo, Indiana in October, 1912, the more than 100-year history of Haynes’ continuous operation also captures the historic growth of many well-known nickel- and cobalt-base superalloy families. As we trace the evolution of these unique materials, we will follow their applications in aerospace, rockets to Mars, World Wars, the chemical industry, and medical prosthetics.
Elwood Haynes was an inventor, teacher, experimenter, businessman, and philanthropist. He was born in Portland, Indiana in 1857 and received his education at Wooster Polytechnic Institute and John Hopkins University. His postgraduate work at John Hopkins provided the basis for his successful metallurgical work that followed.
After a short early career as a teacher, Haynes worked in the oil and gas industry. It was during this time that he developed his ideas for a “horseless carriage.” Haynes moved to Kokomo in December of 1892 and found time to work on his horseless carriage. His first automobile, the “Pioneer,” was successfully tested July 4, 1894. While there is some dispute as to whom the honor of the first automobile in the United States should go, the success of the Pioneer led Haynes to form an automobile company, which produced high-end automobiles through the mid-1920s.1
A tireless inventor, Haynes was in search of a material that would resist tarnishing and be suitable for cutlery. After a number of years of unsuccessful experiments, he developed viable alloys in 1907 and was awarded two patents: one for a nickel-chromium alloy and one for a cobalt-chromium alloy.
Then in September 1912, the United States Patent Office informed Haynes that he would also be granted two patents for new cobalt-chromium tungsten-molybdenum alloys. It was this event that resulted in the formation of the Haynes Stellite Works in Kokomo.
1 J. Frank Duryea tested a horseless carriage in September, 1893
In the beginning, Haynes Stellite was a small “mom and pop” operation with four workers: Elwood Haynes, his wife Bertha, their son March, and brother-in-law Harry Lanterman. As with most new businesses, growth was slow during the early years. Equipment initially consisted of 16 gas-fired furnaces, each capable of melting 15 pounds of alloy. Three different grades of alloys were produced and cast using graphite molds. Haynes called these alloys “Stellite.” This name came from the Latin word “stella” for star because of their star-like luster. Due to the durability of STELLITE,®2 the alloys were primarily used for cutting tools in the early years. These cutting tools would outlast other products and, most importantly, would allow cutting speeds three times as fast as the best available high speed steel tools.
2. STELLITE is now a registered trademark of Kennametal Stellite, Belleville, ON, Canada
Annual sales for the new company jumped from $7,000 to $48,000 in its first two years. In October 1915, Haynes and two local businessmen, Richard Ruddell and James C. Patten, incorporated the business as the Haynes Stellite Company. Haynes was described as much more of an “inventor” than a businessman, and so Patten assumed active management of the new corporation while Haynes focused upon his alloy research.
Under Patten’s leadership, the company had expanded to nearly 25 employees. Sales grew and revenues for STELLITE alloy exceeded $1,000,000 in 1916. The company was selling more volume in a month than previously had been sold in an entire year. By 1918 sales were about $3,600,000.
The use of STELLITE alloys for lathe cutting tools was largely responsible for this rapid growth. The tools became so popular that machinists would often take them home at night for safekeeping, as it was impossible for them to make their quotas if they had to use the more common steel tools. This application set the stage for the first truly important contribution that Haynes Stellite Company made to our country.
During World War I, the strategic importance of the company’s alloys became clearly apparent as demand for industrial production increased dramatically. This was especially true for the manufacture of military aircraft engines. The most important aircraft engine of World War I was the Liberty engine. This 400-horsepower engine was designed to be mass produced with interchangeable parts.
More than 13,000 were built before the armistice and more than 20,000 by the time wartime production ended in 1919.
In a letter to Elwood Haynes in May 1918, Henry M. Leland, the inventor of Cadillac and Lincoln automobiles, highlighted the importance of Haynes’ alloys to the war effort:
“Now Mr. Haynes, allow me to explain that we are trying to machine 850 steel cylinders for Liberty Aeroplanes daily. We have to take heavy cuts off these forgings and the steel is so hard it is impossible for us to get high speed steel that will stand the work.
As you probably know by reading the papers, it would be difficult to conceive how any greater pressure could be exerted in regard to any product than that which is being pressed upon us to get out quantities of the Liberty Motors.
We have found that this Stellite is very superior to the high speed steel or anything else that we have found.
We can and will furnish you with a Priority A certificate if you require it and it will help matters. We are confident that the authorities in Washington will tell you that there is no other government works that ranks ahead of this in importance…”
In addition to the cutting tools, which proved vital to the war effort, the Haynes Stellite Company also supplied nearly 40,000 lancets (scalpels) to army field hospitals. The ability of these lancets to resist tarnishing and maintain a sharp edge often proved to be lifesaving on the front lines.
The 1920s ushered in a new era for the company. Due to its tremendous growth during World War I, Haynes Stellite became an acquisition target and was sold to “a group of eastern capitalists”, as the Kokomo Daily Tribune reported. Union Carbide’s ownership of the company would last for the next 50 years.
As part of a large industrial company, the newly named Stellite Division of Union Carbide had access to extensive resources for research and development.
In 1922, the hard-facing process was invented. This is a welding process that layers a tough alloy over a weaker, less expensive metal. This “weld overlaying” process is now used worldwide in thousands of applications, from farm equipment to nuclear reactor containment vessels. New alloys introduced included trade names such as J Metal, Star J-Metal, and HAYNES STELLITE® 98M2 alloy.
One of the first applications for hard-facing with STELLITE alloys was in oil well drilling. Oil exploration was a growing business during the depression, and drill bits hard-faced with STELLITE alloys lasted several times longer than the best available alloy steels. Other applications included valves and valve seats in gasoline and diesel engines.
At Union Carbide’s R&D facilities at Niagara Falls, NY, research was also being conducted in the area of nickel-molybdenum alloys for corrosion resistance.
This actually marked the origins of the nickel-base superalloy industry. A patent was obtained for a nickel-molybdenum alloy composition range in 1921, which eventually led to the invention of HASTELLOY® A alloy and, two years later, HASTELLOY® B alloy. The unique composition of HASTELLOY B is still being manufactured today.
In 1926, HASTELLOY® C alloy was invented. The fifth generation of this alloy, HASTELLOY® C-2000® alloy, is still being supplied into the chemical process industry today. HASTELLOY® D alloy, a nickel-silicon-copper material, was also invented during the 1920’s. The latest version of this alloy, named HASTELLOY® D-205® alloy, is used today in chemical plants that use hot, highly-concentrated, sulfuric acid.
The 1930s were a time of rapid advancement in the aircraft industry. New, higher horsepower, air-cooled, gasoline piston engines kept pushing altitude ceilings and speed barriers. To provide increased reliability and power, aircraft engine exhaust valves were hard-faced with cobalt-based STELLITE alloys. Both Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis and Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra had engines with valves hard-faced with STELLITE alloy produced in Kokomo.
The company weathered the depression years selling its hard-facing alloys in industrial and agricultural applications and the new HASTELLOY® alloys in the growing chemical process industry. During this time, new melting technology was moved to Kokomo from Union Carbide’s facility in Niagara Falls, NY. The first wrought versions of the HASTELLOY alloys were being developed and rolled at Ingersoll Steel and Disc Company in New Castle, Indiana on a conversion basis.
In the late 1930s, a new type of casting process was being used to make parts such as dental restorations and surgical bone pins. This process, also known as the “lost wax” or “investment casting” process, would lead to what might be considered the most important period of growth for the company.
As the company embarked upon the 1940s, the war in Europe was just beginning, and the United States’ involvement was inevitable. World War II would alter the company’s future much as World War I had done.
Aircraft engines of that era commonly used superchargers to boost performance and increase horsepower. Early blades were forged and machined from HASTELLOY B alloy, and around 1941, STELLITE 21® and 31 alloys were used in this application.
In a meeting with supercharger manufacturer General Electric Company, the Stellite Division broached the idea of using the “precision casting” or lost wax process to dramatically speed up the manufacture of turbine blades. The work with GE pushed the Stellite Division into its most important war effort.
By combining a STELLITE alloy with the precision casting process, the company was able to produce a turbine blade, also called a “bucket” that could withstand the high temperatures and stresses encountered in the supercharger. This was absolutely crucial to the U.S. military because the supercharger, with the STELLITE alloy buckets, allowed allied bombers to fly above anti-aircraft fire. The process for making these turbine buckets was a closely guarded secret during the war, and plant security was high.
Over 25 million buckets were produced during the World War II, with a production reaching a peak of greater than 2 million units per month. Haynes Stellite was the premier investment casting house in the United States at this time, and supplied about 70% of the turbine buckets used.
While turbine buckets were a vital contribution to the war effort, the company continued to deliver lathe-cutting tools to machine shops and manufacturers all over the United States. These cutting tools were essential for the high output demanded for the production of war materials.
As a consequence of the war effort, employment at the Stellite Division grew dramatically, reaching a peak of about 2,000 workers. With many of the men in the country away serving in the military, more than half of the workforce during the war years were women.
Another application employing both the STELLITE alloys and the new HASTELLOY alloys was search light reflectors for the US Navy. These metallic reflectors, made from plate rolled by outside conversion sources using billet melted in Kokomo, were shatterproof and maintained a high luster even in saltwater environments. In addition, thousands of pounds of Stellite Division alloys were being used in the ultra-secret Manhattan Project for the development of the atomic bomb.
After the war, employment at Stellite dropped to about 900 workers, and considerable efforts were made to find opportunities for increasing business. A major milestone occurred in the late 1940s with the establishment of the wrought alloy plant in Kokomo.
In light of the increasing demand for wrought products, the company decided to build a new plant. Prior to this, wrought products were finished by outside rolling mills. In 1945, about 100 acres of land south of the main plant was purchased for the Defenbaugh Street Operations. This new facility included rolling equipment for the production of plate, sheet, and bar products. Some of the same equipment installed there in 1948 is still in use today.
The decision to produce wrought alloys was a critical turning point. Up to this point, most products offered by the company had been in the form of castings. While both cast and wrought products would be produced for some 26 years after the new plant was built, the future of the company was becoming more closely linked to the production of wrought products. Today, they constitute the whole business of Haynes International.
In many respects the 1950s also marked the beginning of significant change for the company. New high temperature wrought alloys were also being added. MULTIMET® alloy, a nickel-cobalt-chromium-molybdenum-tungsten material, appeared in 1949, and in 1950, the cobalt alloy L-605, now known as HAYNES® 25 alloy, was first manufactured.
Large government defense contracts during the Korean conflict provided great opportunities for the company and its new wrought alloy operations. Among these opportunities was the development of the gas turbine jet engine for the expanding military and commercial aircraft industry. In 1952, the newly invented HASTELLOY® X alloy was a case of the right alloy at the right time. Just as the alloy was being introduced, Pratt & Whitney was looking for a replacement material for a failed combustor can in their new JT-3 jet gas turbine engine. X alloy was tested and performed very well. It was chosen for the JT-3 engine, which powered the first Boeing 707, and then later was used in the P&W JT-8D engine, which powered the first Boeing 727 aircraft. Sixty years later, HASTELLOY® X alloy remains one of the largest volume, nickel-base sheet alloys for gas turbine hot section components.
In 1956, the company expanded its manufacturing capabilities with the addition of vacuum induction melting facilities. This capability was needed to maintain an annual supply of 360,000 pounds of investment casting remelt bar to General Motors.
The 1960s were also characterized by superalloy manufacturing advancements, particularly by the introduction of Argon Oxygen Decarburization (AOD) and Electro Slag Remelting (ESR). The AOD process manufactures alloys with very low levels of carbon. The ESR process is a secondary melting operation that refines the cast structure and removes impurities. These improvements enabled the development of a new class of superalloys for both high-temperature and corrosive applications. The most notable were HASTELLOY® C-276 and HAYNES® 188 alloys.
C-276 alloy is now an industry standard alloy for use in the chemical and petrochemical processing, while 188 alloy remains the material of choice for jet engine afterburner components in engines like the Pratt and Whitney F-100. The 188 alloy allowed jet engine designers to increase the engine temperature by 300°F, resulting in substantially greater thrust and performance.
Along with advances in melting technology, and the subsequent refinement in superalloy capabilities, the 1960’s brought a new cold strip mill to the company. This mill gave the company greatly expanded capabilities and capacity in the production of sheet, coil, and strip products. The growing aerospace market was a big user of sheet material, and the new strip mill was the right capital expansion at the right time.
The 1960s also brought great challenges and opportunities as President Kennedy declared America’s intention of landing a man on the moon. At that time, nearly half of the vacuum cast remelt bar produced by the company were consumed internally for making precision castings for aerospace applications, including special NASA projects.
The Apollo program used a Saturn V rocket powered by five engines containing nearly 14 tons of nickel and cobalt-based superalloys, with approximately 2,000 investment castings for each vehicle. By the end of the decade, a total of 24 astronauts had traveled to the moon, and 12 of them walked on its surface. The space race afforded the company many great opportunities in the aerospace markets.
The fifty year ownership of Union Carbide ended in 1970 when the Company was purchased by Cabot Corporation, a multifaceted chemical, oil and gas company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. In a measure of respect to the history, Cabot management continued the “Stellite Division” company name.
From the outset, the intent of the business strategy developed by Cabot’s management was to have the Stellite Division become the dominant producer and supplier of flat products for both the aerospace and chemical process industry markets. While this foray into commodity products was very important, of equal importance was the second part of the strategy: to focus efforts on the development of whole new family of commercially-established, non-proprietary alloys designed to push the envelope of material capabilities.
Utilizing the company’s in-house research capability to scale up the materials from lab trials to production, the company began to produce a significant volume of alloys that had neither been invented nor commercially introduced by the company for the first time in 50 years. This effort was to prove extremely successful, as some 10 new alloys were to be introduced over the course of the next 15 years.
The passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the establishment of the EPA in 1971 held great promise for the corrosion-resistant alloy business. The government’s many efforts to foster environmental improvements included a mandate for the nation’s coal-fired power plants to reduce sulfurous gas emissions. This mandate ultimately led to the wide-spread adoption of flue gas desulfurization technology in the power industry, mostly in the form of wet scrubbing units.
These units needed to be resistant to the corrosive acids formed by the flue gases. Superalloys, such as C-276 alloy, were used in many of these critical applications. HASTELLOY® B-2 alloy, the second generation of HASTELLOY B alloy, and HASTELLOY® C-4 alloy, designed for the European chemical industry, were also introduced. This also created a need for changes in the commercial organization. The company opened a service center in Corby, England in 1973 one in Lille, France in 1978.
The OPEC oil embargo in 1973 changed our everyday lives in many ways. Government price controls, gasoline rationing, lower highway speed limits, and persistently higher prices drove oil and gas exploration to more hostile places, such as Alaska and the middle of the North Sea. Recognizing these opportunities, the company began to place greater emphasis upon the application of its alloys in the oil and gas industry. In 1977, Haynes opened the Arcadia Tubular Facility in Arcadia, Louisiana, to satisfy the growing tubular needs of the sour gas markets.
In 1978, The Airline Deregulation Act removed government controls on fares, routes, and market entry for commercial aviation. This sudden exposure to competition led to significant short-term airline financial losses.No one foresaw the ensuing spectacular growth in that industry.
The aerospace industry requirements for new gas turbine engines, with higher thrust, better fuel efficiency, and lower required maintenance provided an excellent climate for a culture of alloy innovation. The requirement for thousands of new passenger aircraft increased as the average ticket price dropped up to 60% and the number of passengers tripled. This fostered the company’s development of a whole new generation of successful high-temperature super-alloys over the next 20 years.
By 1980, it was clear that the company had to improve its sheet and coil manufacturing capabilities. New applications required better quality control and lower costs, and higher capacities were needed for growth. It was for these reasons that the company embarked on its most ambitious capital expansion project.
Work began on the installation of a new 4-High combination plate/hotband Stekel mill. This facility would have the ability to hot roll superalloy plate product up to 2” thick and 72” wide. It could produce continuous 10,000 pound hotbands at widths up to 48” with a thickness of 0.250” or less. Prior to the 4-High, coils were built up by welding together long, narrow, 0.250” plates end-to-end. This method of building up a coil is still used for some small volume hard-to-make alloys where their metallurgical properties preclude 4-High hotband rolling.
This mill was designed and installed by George Tippins of Pittsburgh, PA, and features a 12 million pound separating force. The two mill housings weigh 380,000 pounds each and were cast in Germany. When installation was finished in 1982, the Stellite Division had a state-of-the-art hot mill that is still the largest, most powerful 4-High Stekel mill in the world devoted to the rolling of nickel- and cobalt-base superalloys.
Construction of the 4-High Stekel Mill
Alloy development was also moving at a fast pace. The early 1980s saw the introduction of several major alloys including HASTELLOY® C-22®, HASTELLOY® G-30,® HAYNES® 214® and HAYNES® 230® alloys. All of these superalloys are still in production and have become standard engineering materials in many applications. Uses for superalloys continued to expand in the 1980s.
While millions of pounds were specified for flue gas desulfurization units at coal-fired power plants worldwide, millions of pounds of thin gauge coils were produced for the U.S. Army for the first Gulf War for The Abrams M-1 Main Battle Tank. This tank had a 1500 horsepower, gas turbine engine that used an air-to-air heat exchanger, often referred to as the recuperator. The recuperator used about eleven hundred pounds of superalloy for each engine.
During this time there was another interesting application using our alloys. In the mid-1970s the company secured the right to produce FERRALIUM® 255 alloy, a super stainless steel. Although mostly used in the chemical industry, this alloy was used for the replacement of the internal support structure of the Statue of Liberty during the 1983 restoration of the monument. HASTELLOY® C-22® alloy flat bars, used to secure the spikes in Lady Liberty’s crown, were made in Kokomo and donated to the National Park Service.
Left: FERRALIUM® alloy 255 superstainless steel bars produced by Haynes under license from Langley Alloys, Ltd. arrive at Liberty Island in 1986.
The mid 1980s brought a 20-year period of change to the company. In October 1985, Cabot Corporation announced that it would sell the Stellite Division. A partial spinoff was affected by July 1987, and the remainder of the Kokomo-based company was renamed Haynes International, Inc. In September 1989 the sale of Haynes International to an investment banking firm was consummated, and the era of Cabot Corporation in Kokomo came to an end.
As demand grew for our alloys, and nickel alloys in general, so did the demand for wire products. To increase capacity for the growing wire markets, Haynes International bought Branford Wire located in Mountain Home, North Carolina in 2004. On March 23, 2007, the company completed an initial public offering and was listed on NASDAQ.
Today, annual sales are over $500 million. We are still a thriving developer and manufacturer of high-performance superalloys. This combination of primary manufacturing facilities and worldwide service center locations is unique in the high-performance alloy industry.
Research and development remains an important part of our business as we continue to invent new alloys. Haynes technical and marketing experts work closely with customers to select material for vital and exciting areas, such as solar panel and fuel cell electricity production, deep drilling oil and gas well exploration, and high-efficiency boilers for electricity generation. Our alloys enable the production of cancer-fighting drugs, as well as the common aspirin. Haynes products are used in parts for almost every commercial airline plane flying today, as well as in military aircraft for the United States and its Allies. Alloys invented and produced throughout our history have flown on every Apollo and space shuttle flight and are found in most rocket parts used in satellite launches today, as well as the latest “Curiosity” Mission to Mars.
In 1894, when Elwood Haynes drove his “Pioneer” down Pumpkinvine Pike here in Kokomo, he set in motion an inventive spirit. He was a tireless inventor who developed the unique metal alloys that led to the foundation of Haynes International, instilled our commitment to alloy excellence, and inspired our Tradition of Innovation.