Specialized Turning Blog

What to Know about Machining Titanium

Posted by Chip Holm on Jan 29, 2016 3:02:53 PM

Considerations of Costs and Qualities of Titanium

It’s well know that titanium is among the pricier of the materials to work with, though from the machining titanium perspective, not the easiest to work with—due to, in part, the toll it takes on the tooling. But it’s in high demand in industries like aerospace, petrochemical, chemical, medical, architecture, military, and transportation, so there is good reason to discuss why it is sought after.

Titatnium_part.jpgLet's take a quick look at titanium’s most valuable attributes that show why it is so versatile.

Attributes of titanium:

  • Strength-to-weight ratio
  • Corrosion resistance (especially in the presence of oxidizing acids)
  • Biological compatibility
  • Cryogenic temperature capabilities
  • Low coefficient of thermal expansion
  • Ballistic resistance
  • Composites capabilities

Most notably, the high strength and low density property of titanium, which is ~40% lower than that of steel, is often the deciding factor when choosing titanium for applications—especially in aerospace components. And given the other qualities of titanium, choosing it seems the easy choice—except the price may seem prohibitive. Why is the price of machining titanium so high?

High Price of Machining Titanium

At Specialized Turning, we are well-versed in how to handle this tough metal and maximize our machining efficiency, so we wouldn’t call it high-maintenance, exactly—but it is close, when it comes to qualifying how easy (or hard, pun intended) titanium is to work with. A few factors that contribute to the high cost of titanium involve the high amount of energy required to separate the metal from the ore, along with other preparatory processes that require intensive energy. Once one the tooling floor, machining is costly. When machining titanium, we must consider some tough restrictions on machining parameters that can affect:

  • Metal removal rates
  • Surface finish quality
  • Dimensional accuracy
  • Tool life (premature tool change vs. expense of regrind)
  • Run time (as compared to machining other types of alloys)
  • General maintenance of machines

Titanium’s Machinability

While finished precision titanium components have may attractive features, some of the properties of titanium that impact its performance when being machined give credence to its classification as being tough to work with. Factors that influence titanium’s machinability are its:

  • Poor conduction of heat, effectively concentrating the heat on the cutting edge and tool face
  • Chemical reactivity, which causes galling, welding, and smearing, all leading to compromising the cutting tool
  • Low modulus of elasticity, requiring heavy cuts, sharp cutting tools, and general system rigidity to mitigate titanium’s “springy” quality
  • Fatigue properties, which can compromise surface integrity
  • Work-hardening characteristics, resulting in a complete absence of “built-up edge”

See How We Work with Titanium!

At Specialized Turning, we are expert in machining titanium alloys to produce the best possible quality and value. We use only state-of-the art tooling geometries and coatings to ensure the most economical stock removal rates at the highest speeds—important to avoid damaging work hardening. With our extensive inventory of tooling upfront costs and order processing, costs are minimized.

Let’s talk about your titanium needs. We’d love to get the conversation started. Contact us today!


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Topics: machining titanium, titanium tooling, titanium price