Titanium Machining And Cutting

Titanium is one of the lightest and strongest metals available to any manufacturer or machining company. Its strength, hardness, elasticity and non-reactive nature make titanium the material of choice for everything from aerospace to surgical applications. Its tough nature, heat resistance and tendency to work harden have kept many companies from working with this fantastic metal but there is no reason to avoid machining titanium. Everything that makes titanium difficult to work with can be overcome and the return on investment in titanium machining is excellent.

SGS have brought together years or titanium machining expertise to help you. With the right tools, technology and SGS know-how, you can overcome any issues titanium machining throws your way. As a leading provider of titanium milling equipment, we are uniquely placed to help machining companies and milling operations get the most out of their CNC tooling, spindles, milling equipment and coolants.

Traditional Titanium Machining

Titanium is most often machined by turning, boring, milling, drilling, tapping, broaching, planning, toothing, grinding, lapping and cutting. These are usually achieved using some sort of carbide tipped tooling.  While there is other, less traditional methods, mechanical CNC machining using carbide tooling is still the preferred method because it is low cost, efficient and can be used with traditional milling machines.

Factors When Machining Titanium

If you are considering milling titanium, there are a number of factors you must take into account. The first is low heat conductivity which means any tooling needs to be protected from high heat. When titanium gets hot, it also becomes more reactive. Other factors you will need to address include plastic deformation in titanium and stress issues. To learn more about what to consider when machining titanium, please visit our machinability of titanium page.
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Factors you must control when machining titanium include:

Cutting Speeds

Use the correct cutting speeds to run your tooling to avoid heating, cold welding and other issues. Remember cutting speeds for titanium should be lower than they are fore steel. You can find more about cutting speeds on our speeds and feeds page.

Travel Speeds

Matching the correct tool speed with the correct travel speed is crucial to proper titanium machining. To compensate for lower tool speeds, you can increase feed speeds without affecting tool life. To learn how to calculate the proper feed rate, visit our speeds and feeds page.

Tooling

When milling titanium, you need the right tool with the right coating used in the right way. Improper tools or uncoated tools will simply damage your milling equipment and your titanium. You can get more information on our tooling page.
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Coolants

Finding the correct coolant can increase the life of your tooling and prevent wastage. Remember that any coolants you use should be directed straight onto the tooling as the refrigeration effect does not work well in titanium. To find out which coolant you should be using, check out our coolant page.

Spindles and Fixtures

Securing your material and tooling will prevent waste and excess tool wear. Improperly fixed materials can also be ruined, as can tooling, due to chatter. Visit our fixtures page to better understand how to properly work with your fixtures.
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Alternative Machining Methods

While traditional CNC machining methods are used for most work, some newer methods have important niche applications. Electrical discharge milling (EDM) is great for making very fragile parts as it uses electricity to melt off pieces of material. This means there are no cutting forces involved. Lasers can also be used to cut or etch and are wonderful for detail work but they have limited uses. New technology actually uses titanium powder and a laser to 3D print custom titanium pieces. This is expensive but can produce pieces that are lighter than traditional milling. Finally, water jets are often used for cutting titanium but they cannot match the versatility of traditional methods. If you are interested in learning more, visit our alternative machining methods page.
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Troubleshooting

Everyone who works machining titanium has to deal with a number of issues. These can present a challenge for the uninitiated but are easily overcome. The most common problems encountered include tool heating and chatter. To learn how to prevent these and other issues, please visit our troubleshooting page.
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