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Makino Learning Lab: Titanium Milling

“Makino’s ADVANTiGE Technologies Improve Titanium Milling” Learning Lab addressed the increasing need to efficiently cut titanium alloys.

Presented by Mark Larson, manager of the titanium process development group at Makino, the lab began by examining the reasons why titanium parts are desirable and the challenges users face when cutting the nonmagnetic, nontoxic metal. Titanium is 60 percent heavier than aluminum but twice as strong and has a similar strength to steel while being 45 percent lighter. However, because titanium is a poor heat conductor, not much heat travels with chips when machining it, shortening tool life. Also, the machining process involves a high-force, low-frequency banging of the cutting edge into the material, further reducing tool life and resulting in less profit per part, according to Larson.

To enhance productivity and extend tool life when milling titanium, Makino offers its ADVANTiGE technologies on the T series machines: T2 and T4. The horizontal machining centers incorporate advanced spindle technologies, high-pressure coolant delivery, active vibration damping and a high level of rigidity, the company reports. According to Larson, the ADVANTiGE technologies can boost productivity and increase tool life fourfold.

Larson noted that both machines have the same purpose-built rigidity, including 310mm-wide ways to provide a sound basis for absorbing vibration. The high-torque, high-power spindle is effective for milling titanium—especially the torque—with full torque to 950 rpm, he added.

In addition, Makino’s variable-posture control accuracy feature ensures the machine is always correctly positioning the spindle, according to Larson. “It improves accuracy over the long term,” he said.

Besides providing high-pressure, through-tool coolant deliver at 1,000 psi, T series machines flow that coolant through the spindle at a high rate of 52.8 gpm. Larson emphasized that coolant must cool and lubricate to be effective. “Lubrication has to be added,” he said. “Cooling is not enough to extend tool life.”

Larson explained that different fluids provide their own specific latent heat of vaporization, meaning that some things cool better than others. And because water has the highest one, a water-based coolant is still the most effective fluid to remove heat at the tool/workpiece interface when cutting titanium, according to Larson. He added that the machine tool builder is partnering with coolant manufacturers and continues to test coolants.


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