Hard metals, such as stainless steel and titanium, offer unique properties that make them ideal for various applications. However, working with hard metals can be challenging, especially for those who are new to the world of machining. That doesn’t mean you have to avoid these materials entirely, though. With proper techniques and tools, you can still achieve optimal results. Find success in your metalworking projects with these tips for working with hard metals in your machine shop.
Use the Right Tools
When working with hard metals, it’s essential to use the right tools. As you choose your cutting tools, look for drill bits and taps that consist of durable, high-performance materials like high-speed steel or carbide. Make sure you match the right tool to the project, too. For example, one of the advantages of thread milling over thread tapping is that thread mills work better with stronger metals like hardened steel or titanium. Pay attention when planning your projects and choose the cutting technique that will yield the highest quality results for your piece.
Choose the Right Cutting Conditions
Another crucial factor to consider when working with hard metals in your machine shop is the cutting conditions—these include tool speed, feed rate, and cutting depth. The ideal cutting conditions depend on the specific material being machined, its hardness, and other properties. By carefully matching the proper cutting conditions to the material you’re working with, you can reduce machining time, prevent excessive tool wear, and improve the quality and accuracy of the machined parts.
Use Adequate Cutting Fluids
Hard metals generate a lot of heat during the machining process, which can cause tool wear and damage the machined parts. Coolants and lubricants are essential for dissipating heat, preventing tool wear, washing away chips and debris, and improving the surface finish of your workpiece. Hard metals generate a lot of friction, so make sure you choose a cutting fluid that prioritizes lubrication.
Maintain Your Equipment
Keeping your equipment in good condition is always a good idea, but it becomes critical when working with hard metals. Poorly maintained machines can cause problems like excessive tool wear, poor surface finish, and inaccurately machined parts. Regular maintenance—including cleaning, lubrication, and calibration—ensures that your equipment is in good working order, enhancing the quality and accuracy of your machined parts.