Kanthal is the trademark for a family of iron-chromium-aluminium (FeCrAl) alloys used in a wide range of resistance and high-temperature applications. Kanthal FeCrAl alloys consist of mainly iron, chromium (20–30%) and aluminium (4–7.5 %). The first Kanthal FeCrAl alloy was developed by Hans von Kantzow in Hallstahammar, Sweden. Its name is derived from Kantzow and Hallstahammar. The alloys are known for their ability to withstand high temperatures and having intermediate electric resistance. As such, it is frequently used in heating elements. The trademark Kanthal is owned by Sandvik Intellectual Property AB.
For heating, resistance wire must be stable in air when hot. Kanthal FeCrAl alloy forms a protective layer of aluminum oxide (alumina). Aluminium oxide is an electrical insulator but has a relatively high thermal conductivity; special techniques may be required to make good electrical connections.
Ordinary Kanthal FeCrAl alloy has a melting point of 1,500 °C (2,730 °F). Special grades can be used as high as 1,425 °C (2,597 °F). Kanthal is the name not only of a family of alloys, it is also the brand name for Sandvik's heating technology products. Another trademark of Kanthal is MAXthal, which uses ternary carbides such as Ti2AlC that are known as MAX Phases have good oxidation resistance at high temperatures. Kanthal used to be a name of a company AB Kanthal that was founded 1931. In the late 1990s Sandvik became majority shareholder in Kanthal after its purchase linked to the Trustor affair. In 2010 AB Kanthal changed name to Sandvik Heating Technology AB.