Skip to content

Machining Titanium

Is Titanium Difficult to Machine?

Titanium is one of those materials that has much to offer and is the choice for many industrial and critical applications. It has superior strength to weight ratio but is challenging to machine. Unlike steel that is machined with relatively less challenges, Titanium machined parts do take extra care to manufacture. This alloy, with a melting point of 1941K and a boiling point of 3560k, has proven to be highly sought after with uses in critical and commercial industries like aerospace, medical, automotive, science research and many more. Machining titanium is difficult and related to the characteristics of it. How CNC manufacturers approach a titanium machining project is done in the following ways:

  • Titanium has low thermal conductivity. This can cause heat to build up during machining if the proper settings are not used. An incorrect setting when machining titanium can result in excessive tool wear.
  • Coolant is Important for
  •  to operate correctly. This is amplified on machined titanium. A high-pressure coolant and system should be used to keep chip adhesion from around the cutting area.
  • Radial engagement is the amount of the cutting tool that is in contact with the raw material at any given moment. When minimized, the cutting speed can be increased, and chip evacuation will be improved allowing longer tool life.
  • Arc and Chamfer are other aspects of adjustment when machining titanium and important for a quality result. The arc refers to the steady entry of the tool into the work piece while the chamfer is the angle of the tools cutting edge. Machined titanium is best when cutting with a thick to thin arc.

There are other factors to consider and when speaking with your preferred CNC machining services provider, they will review what adjustments may be needed for your specific project due to the characteristics of titanium and for the grade of titanium being used. In its purest forms titanium comes in grades of 1,2,3, and 4. As each higher-grade number increases so does the tensile and yield strength. Not being alloyed, these grades are lighter than steel with a high strength to weight ratio. Projects requiring these characteristics would be used in industry applications such as: medical, aerospace, marine, architecture and chemical processing, for example.

Grade 5 is used very often and referred to as Ti 6-4, Ti 6AL-4V and Ti6AL4V. Sheets of Grade 5 have superior strength and high range of temperature threshold and corrosion resistance. Used also in industry needs for aerospace, medical implants, and environments where potential corrosion is found.

 Titanium machined parts are needed for their structural integrity and ability to withstand strong forces while being lightweight in comparison to other alloys. Though CNC machining of a titanium part can have challenges not experienced when milling other alloys, once produced it will provide the industry it serves with a long-life span and proven record of reliability.

Can Titanium Be CNC Machined?

It is no secret that you can CNC machine titanium although some applications may be secretive in their use for the military or other defense related uses. CNC machined titanium can be used in applications where aluminum or steel is used, but that would incur additional cost as a titanium machined part will be more expensive than other alloys. However, you cannot readily replace titanium with aluminum, steel for some applications. Machining titanium is done when a project requires superior strength, corrosion resistance, high temperature tolerance and or biocompatibility. Machined titanium is done very successfully by CNC technology which covers a multitude of disciplines including CNC Mills, lathes, routers, lasers, drilling, grinding plasma cutters and others. The available technologies combined are used in ways to machine titanium by precision numeric control or CNC. This technology had its evolution back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s as the experiences from World War 2 indicated some changes to precision manufacturing were needed. As new approaches to manufacturing took hold and technology advanced, so did the need to use materials like titanium. When CNC machining services providers started manufacturing titanium machined parts, they were approached by industries looking to use this material and push advancements to products and design new ways that titanium could be used. This lightweight and strong material is preferred in the following applications:

  • Aerospace- Titanium CNC machining to produce turbine components, valves, chair frames and other uses.
  • Automotive-Engine rockers, caliper springs, suspension springs, engine piston springs and many more.
  • Medical and Dental- Machined titanium is used for dental implant screws, bone screws, spinal fixation rods, orthopedic pins, etc.

CNC machined precision parts take great skill and knowledge that is accumulated over many years and hundreds if not thousands of hours by individuals in this field. Titanium machined parts are different from machining stainless steel to copper to aluminum and so on. Available technologies used by CNC service providers when machining titanium or other metal alloys are:

  • CNC Drills- Used to create holes, slots, and other geometry. Cutting through or programed depths.
  • CNC Lathes– Rotating the material while blades cut the shape. Good for cylinders and similar shapes.
  • CNC Milling- Used in 3,4, and 5 axis machines. Can produce very complex parts.
  • CNC Routers- Sheets of materials are cut and drilled by this method.
  • CNC Laser Cutting– Also good for cutting sheets of materials, especially in thinner gauges.
  • CNC Plasma Cutting- Used for industrial applications and can cut many material types.
  • CNC Waterjet- Using high-water pressure and abrasives can cut various materials with no heat affect.

Titanium CNC machining produces many precision parts and components for industries and applications we know and don’t know about. As it is rather abundant in the Earth’s crust, titanium is expensive to process into the raw form used by industrial manufacturers so any application of it will be at a higher cost. Regarding Titanium there may not be an alternative available especially when it comes to public safety in aerospace or national defense. Machined titanium processed by your qualified CNC manufacturer will be a superior and highly durable component providing reliability and confidence to the user.