Machinability

Machinability research underpins the AMRC with Boeing’s machining process work, by developing a better understanding of the essential machining qualities of high performance aerospace materials and cutting tools.

The AMRC with Boeing’s Machinability Team, part of the Machining Group, develops new knowledge and capabilities for the machining research teams and industrial partners.

The team work with a multitude of aerospace materials, focusing on titanium, high strength steel, nickel and aluminium alloys, as well as carbon fibre composites.


Research

We carry out machinability research to support the work of other AMRC groups and industrial partners.

Our core research areas include:

• Characterising materials and tools.

• Understanding and reducing the causes of tool wear.

• Developing the chemistry and application of cutting fluids.

• Understanding the material science behind machinability.

• Developing new experimental methods.


Capabilities

The Machinability Team has access to the full range of machining centres in the AMRC Factory of the Future and KTC, plus some key pieces of specialist analytic equipment.

Alicona InfiniteFocus G4 & SL high-resolution 3D scanners

InfiniteFocus

A range of optical 3D scanning units produced by AMRC member Alicona. We use the scanners to check the geometry of cutting tools and investigate the form of finished components.

With resolution as fine as 10nm, the Alicona devices allow us to evaluate edge rounding, wedge angle and other cutting tool features within a few seconds.

They are also used to investigate surface finish on non-planar or soft surfaces, and to take complex non-contact measurements such as burr height or fillet radius.

Carl Zeiss and USB toolmaker’s microscopes

We mainly use microscopes to evaluate cutting tool wear. USB microscopes are useful for rapid on-machine assessment of cutting tools. If significant wear has occurred, we can use the Zeiss microscope to carry out a quantitative wear assessment and track tool wear over the time of cutting.

Kistler dynamometers

Cutting forces dictate regenerative vibration limits, machine power consumption, tool deflection and tool fracture. Kistler dynamometers allow us to measure these forces during a cutting process. We have three dynamometers suitable for milling and drilling studies, measuring both forces and torque, and one suitable for turning processes.

We also have access to contact roughness measurement, surface integrity examination, micro and macro hardness testing, EDX analysis, XRD residual stress measurement and fatigue testing facilities.


Case studies

Titanium machinability in turning.

Subsurface deformation during precision turning of a near-alpha titanium alloy.

Thermomechanical impact of machining on the sub-surface microstructure of titanium alloys.


People

Dr Chris Taylor – technical lead

Chris has worked with the AMRC since 2006, and led the Machinability Team since 2011.

He has authored papers on process damping, tool vibration driven by chip segmentation, ceramic machining and high speed machining of injection mould tools. Research interests include tool wear diagnosis, built-up edges and burring, machining dynamics and materials science.

Dr Pete Crawforth – technical lead

Pete studied for his degree and PhD with the highly-regarded University of Sheffield Department of Materials Science. His PhD studied deformation of titanium alloys, relating to machining processes. He demonstrated how the process history of a titanium bar can affect the texture of the alloy, and affect cutting forces. Pete is now working on aerospace alloy characterisation, including a student supervisory role.

Dr Ian Cook – project engineer

Ian has studied the machinability of stainless steel and aluminium. He manages the Alicona optical systems, and works on cost modelling and elevated temperature machining.

Matt Broderick – project engineer

Matt focuses on cutting fluid development, and has worked on large coolant characterisation projects for the AMRC. He is experienced in design of experiments and statistics.