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High Performance Machining of Hard-to-Cut Materials Using Cutting Tools with Hard PVD Coatings

McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute, Canada Kobelco, Kobe Steel Group, Japan

Do you have difficult to cut material?

With the introduction of advanced structural materials to the manufacturing practice the development of innovative tooling solutions able to sustain severe and extreme operating conditions is a challenge. At the McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) we have found a way to achieve this through the application of Adaptive Hard PVD coatings. Our philosophy is founded on a phenomena-based concept with the emphasis on evaluation of friction-wear mechanisms.

Is your tooling limiting your productivity?

In industry, tooling is roughly 5% of your cost and you usually don’t focus on it, but concentrate on the big ticket items like equipment. McMaster has identified this as an issue in high performance machining by using cutting tools with Adaptive Hard PVD coatings.

MMRI and Kobelco offer Customized Solutions

As a result of a long-term collaboration with Kobelco of Japan, a family of PVD (Physical Vapor Deposited) coatings has been developed. These coatings can be used to improve the machinability of hard-to-cut materials, increase productivity in the machining process. Two major categories of novel hard coatings were developed:

Adaptive coatings (for machining of aerospace alloys and hardened steels); Thick coatings with reduced level of residual stresses (for machining of advanced structural materials).

Machining of aerospace alloys using cutting tools with Adaptive PVD coatings

A new generation of adaptive nano-multilayered coatings (2-3 mm thick) allows to introduce nano-technology to high performance machining. This new class of coatings has an ability to form superb protective and lubricious surface layers during cutting. Harsher operating conditions enhance self-protection of the coatings. The result is a significant improvement in tool life and productivity of the machining process. We introduced this family of coatings with customized composition, structure and properties for specific applications.

Unique feature of the novel adaptive Kobelco – MMRI coatings is their nano-multilayer design with alternating layers that have various chemical composition and structure. This allows to encourage adaptability under harsh operating conditions that could result in productivity improvement.

conditions that could result in productivity improvement. TEM image of the nano-multilayered adaptive coatings.

TEM image of the nano-multilayered adaptive coatings. Overall coating thickness of the coating is 2-3 micrometers with 80-100 alternating nano-layers with different composition or/and structure

Examples of Adaptive Hard PVD Coatings Applications for machining of hard-to-cut materials

Novel adaptive multi-functional coatings with enhanced protective ability

A family of novel adaptive coating shows multi- functionality due to their ability to sustain strongly variable operating conditions, such as:

-dry ultra-high speed machining (ball nose end milling) of hardened tool steels; -high performance machining (turning) of Ni-based superalloys; -deep hole drilling of hardened structural steels.

Machining of Hardened (HRC 53-55) tool steel

The adaptive coating is able to sustain extreme conditions of dry (coolant- free) machining (ball nose end milling of hardened tool steel H 13) at ultra- high cutting speeds of 700 m/min. This means that productivity of the machining process for the coated cutting tools is significantly (by more than 2.3 times) higher compared to commercial coatings.

adaptive adaptive Productivity improvement by 2.33 times
adaptive
adaptive
Productivity
improvement by
2.33 times
Tools with Tools commercial with coating novel coating
Tools with Tools commercial with coating novel coating

Tools with

Tools

commercial

with

coating

novel

coating

To assess the efficiency of the hard coating application a special parameter named relative surface wear (RSW) was introduced, which is a ratio of the radial wear of the cutting tool to the area of the machined surface. Higher values of RSW relate to a lower productivity and vice-versa.

Turning of Inconel 718 Alloy

Turning of Inconel 718 Alloy Tool life improvement of the novel adaptive coatings is around 70

Tool life improvement of the novel adaptive coatings is around 70 % with simultaneous productivity improvement of 50 %

Harsher operating conditions during machining of Inconel 718 alloy (increase in cutting speed) results in better tool life of cutting tools with adaptive coatings

Deep hole drilling of hardened ( HRC 30-35) structural steel

3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Number of drilled holes
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
Number of drilled holes

Commercial state-

of-art coating

TiAlN coating

Novel adaptive

coating

Cutting

   

conditions

Value

Units

Speed

79

m/min

Feed rate

0.25

mm/rev

Depth of cut

39

mm

Tool life improvement of the novel adaptive coatings is around 1,7-2 times compared to commercial state of art and more than 3.5 times compared to TiAlN coating

Novel adaptive/self-lubricating coating

Turning of TiAl6V4 alloy

3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 Length of cut, m up to flank
3500
3000
2500
2000
1500
1000
500
0
Length of cut, m up to flank wear of 300
microns

Commercial benchmark coating

Novel adaptive/lubricating coating

Cutting

   

conditions

Value

Units

Speed

150

m/min

Feed rate

0.1225

(mm/rev)

Depth of

   

cut

0.25

mm

Tool life improvement of the novel adaptive/self-lubricating coatings is above 2 times

Machining of advanced structural materials using cutting tools with ‘thick’ PVD coating

Recently developed new PVD coatings with reduced level of residual stress allow to increase thickness of the coatings layer up to 15-20 micrometers instead of regular 2-5 micrometers. Cutting tools with ’thick’ coatings could be used for machining of various structural materials such as Cast Irons, Compact Graphite Iron (CGI), Stainless Steels and other advanced materials. The advantages of thicker coatings are clear: the tooling substrate is better protected against various effects resulting from the cutting process such as high temperature, physical-chemical interactions with the workpiece and the environment. Moreover new coatings have improved surface finish that results in better tribological conditions on the tool surface during cutting. This leads to significant tool life increase

20μm
20μm

Cutting insert with new ‘thick’ coating.

Columnar polycrystalline structure of the ‘thick ‘ TiAlN coating is presented in TEM image

Example of ‘thick’ Hard PVD coatings applications for machining of advanced structural materials

Turning of Compact Graphite Iron (CGI), finishing operation

Compact graphite iron is an advanced material recently introduced to industrial practice. Due to superior mechanical properties CGI opens to the possibility of manufacturing components with thinner walls and less weight. Despite this, the use of CGI is limited due to its very low machinability. Aggressive abrasive and chemical wear as well as build up edge formation can be observed. High cutting speed gives faster tool wear, when machining CGI compared to gray iron.

350 300 250 200 150 TiAlN, bias multilayer (3) TiAlN 'thick' 100 50 KC 5510
350
300
250
200
150
TiAlN, bias multilayer (3)
TiAlN
'thick'
100
50
KC 5510
TiAlN
commercial
0
0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
Flank Wear (microns)

Cut length in Metres

Tool life improvement of the novel ‘thick’ coatings is around 2.5 times . Cutting conditions: speed 250 m/min; feed rate 0.345 mm; depth of cut 0.25 mm

Collaboration with Industry

The $19-million McMaster Manufacturing Research Institute (MMRI) is one of the

largest university manufacturing research institutes in North America. Industry experts consider the MMRI to be Canada's most advanced and best-equipped manufacturing research laboratory.

View

our

laboratory

facilities

on

line

at:

Customized Packages for Industry

MMRI is looking for industrial collaborators interested in research projects related to increase in tool life and productivity of the machining process. MMRI is focused on industry oriented research. We provide customers with customized solutions that could be used for machining of hard to cut advanced and exotic materials recently introduced to industrial practice to achieve high productivity on the production floor. We work closely with our industrial collaborators using standardized procedure that includes: 1) identification of their critical problems in machining; 2) performing detailed failure analysis of the worn or broken tools; 3) develop surface engineering tooling with customized coating design for specific applications; 4) optimize parameters of cutting to achieve better productivity of machining. We are ready to deposit novel coating on our customers tools to be tested at their sites. Selected cutting tool samples with the novel adaptive coatings are available for testing at industrial customer sites.

If you have any questions or you need additional information, please contact:

Dr. G. Fox-Rabinovich Research Scientist, MMRI, McMaster University, Canada Phone: (905)525-9140, ext. 23127 Email: gfox@mcmaster.ca

Dr. K. Yamamoto Research Scientist, Kobelco, Japan