Sandvik Coromant, Aerospace

New Strategies and Tools for Machining Titanium More Effectively

May 16, 2011

The challenges of machining titanium are many. Yet in the aerospace industry, titanium’s lightweight strength is in great demand. A thorough understanding of titanium’s properties and challenges are critical to success in machining titanium. Learn more about how Gosiger and Sandvik Coromant partnered to develop innovative new solutions that can help you efficiently tool complicated titanium components.

According to Gosiger’s Marc Goerlich, Director of Technical Sales, the largest users of machined titanium are located on the west coast, primarily in the aerospace industry (especially for landing gears and engine parts). Because titanium is chemically resistant, it is also highly prized in the medical and chemical industries. Its use in the automotive industry is also now growing.

According to Goerlich, Gosiger’s comprehensive understanding of titanium’s properties and challenges are critical to success in machining titanium. In fact, Gosiger has been working with Sandvik Coromant for several decades. The approach has changed over the years, including adopting new cutting strategies and using tooling specifically designed for titanium. These tools typically focus on rough cutting vs. high speed cutting but they are always tailored to customer needs.

Okuma machine tools, supported through Gosiger, offer the stiffness required for a viable titanium tooling solution. Because titanium is a poor thermal conductor, it creates a lot of heat. Titanium is a difficult material to cut because this heat intensifies at the cutting point, creating poor tool life and weakening the cutting edge. By incorporating high pressure cooling systems and special coatings, solutions have been developed to alleviate the heat issues associated with titanium machining and to make titanium cutting tools more efficient.

Titanium is not only difficult to cut, it also takes complex machining and tooling to machine it predictably. Its physical properties (it is lighter and stronger than steel) make titanium popular. They also make it difficult to machine – so engineers tend to avoid it. The perception is that it is just too expensive to machine. Yet Gosiger can provide the right machine tools for titanium; they also teach techniques that make it predictable to machine. Gosiger experts suggest a high rpm, low torque (heavy removal), rigid machine. Gosiger also recommends a TMAC (Tool Monitoring Adaptive Control), an option that can be integrated with your machine tool to leverage adaptive control of the tool and to improve cutting tool longevity. Without TMAC, you will have to run external assistance.

Mariusz Szrek, Sandvik Coromant OTS Specialist, says that, “It’s not about tooling or machines, but about the combination of efforts. To be successful in machining complicated components, you have to start with solid engineering ‘homework”. Sandvik Coromant’s engineering team spent hours of planning and engineering to develop the correct process using the latest technology, looking carefully at part fixturing and tooling. They found that this was much more cost efficient to go through this process than just “putting a chunk of metal in the machine and testing it out”.

Repeated testing allowed the Sandvik Coromant team to overcome titanium’s physical obstacles and create an overall solution. They developed solid carbide titanium specific tools to allow for high removal rates. In fact, Sandvik Coromant attained up to 500 to 600 ft./min., pushing 10 cubic inches of removal.

Coromant Capto®, a well respected modular tooling system developed by Sandvik Coromant, offered a unique system that could be used for turning, milling and drilling titanium. “It is built like Lego blocks but repeated to an eight-millionth of an inch”, said Szrek. Okuma multitasking machines and Coromant Capto’s® technology combine with Gosiger’s application expertise to bring customers the best possible results. Gosiger offered machines with high pressure coolant – allowing for high output using heat resistant material. Szrek said that Gosiger offered the right product for the right application – making it easier for Sandvik Coromant and better for Sandvik Coromant’s client.

Gosiger and Sandvik Coromant have similar business models. Both offer the solution that’s best for customer – even if it means losing business. According to sources from both Gosiger and Sandvik Coromant, anyone can sell tools or machines, but bringing a solution to the customer is what is most important. Sandvik Coromant is the world-leading supplier of cutting tools and tooling systems for the metalworking industry. It invests in research and development to develop innovative processes and applications in the machine tool industry. It focuses on everything from spindle down to insert and offers over 35,000 tooling items.