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titanium cnc machining

Titanium CNC Machining: Everything You Need to Know

Titanium is one of the most versatile and frequently used CNC machining materials by architects, consumer product designers, and industrial engineers. This lustrous transition metal offers unique properties, including low density, low thermal conductivity, relatively high melting point, and good formability for different applications.

More importantly, many industries create titanium machined parts due to their impressive strength-to-weight ratio and corrosion-resistant properties. This article explores titanium CNC machining, titanium grades for CNC machining, surface finishing treatments, and tips for machining titanium with CNC machines.

What Is Titanium CNC Machining?

Titanium is an alloy with various desirable material properties, and manufacturers commonly utilize titanium for custom CNC machined parts. It offers a tremendous strength-to-weight ratio, 5% weaker than steel but 40% lighter, making it compatible with high-demand applications in medical, aerospace, energy, automotive, and marine industries.

CNC precision machining is a reliable and safer technology compatible with titanium, as other alternatives are unsuitable. Custom titanium machining offers quality and the most accurate titanium parts at affordable costs.

CNC machining titanium involves milling a bar of raw material into preferred sizes. A standard CNC machine offers the desired tight tolerances and can make uninterrupted cuts to form the desired titanium parts.

Top Titanium Grades for CNC Machining

CNC Titanium’s versatility allows for its extensive use across various industries. However, here are the different grades of titanium products designers and manufacturers use to make different titanium parts:

Grade 1: Commercially Pure Titanium with Low Oxygen Content

titanium machining

Grade 1 titanium alloy is one of the most used titanium grades. It is the softest titanium alloy, and its ductility allows diverse use. It offers excellent corrosion resistance, impact toughness, machinability, and relative formability.

Its common uses include chemical processing, airframe structure, medical industry, and desalination. However, one of its major downsides is its strength, which is lower than other titanium.

Grade 2: Commercially Pure Titanium with Standard Oxygen Content

This titanium grade possesses high corrosion resistance, ductility, relative machinability, good weldability, strength, and formability. However, grade 2 titanium is pure titanium and stronger than grade 1.

However, it is not as strong as other titanium grades. Typical applications of this grade include chlorate manufacturing, aircraft engines, hydrocarbon processing, and medical titanium components.

Grade 3: Commercially Pure Titanium with Medium Oxygen Content

Although grade 3 titanium offers impressive mechanical properties, it is the least commercially used titanium grade. Manufacturers employ this grade in producing titanium parts due to its good relative machinability, corrosion, resistance, and high strength.

Various sectors, including aerospace, marine, and medical, use grade 3 titanium. Nonetheless, this titanium grade exhibit less formability than titanium grade 1 and 2.

Grade 4: Commercially Pure Titanium with High Oxygen Content

It is the strongest of the commercially pure grades. So, this titanium grade is a perfect choice if your products require high strength, good relative machinability, and corrosion resistance.

Typical applications for grade 4 titanium are airframe components, heat exchangers, CPI equipment, cryogenic vessels, and surgical hardware. Although this titanium grade is the strongest, it is hard to machine. It requires high feed rates, slow speed, and high coolant flow.

Grade 5:  Titanium alloy – Ti64I4V

This titanium alloy is the most used, containing alloying elements such as 4% vanadium and 6% aluminum. Its aluminum content enhances its corrosion resistance properties. Its other properties include high formability and poor relative machinability.

Despite being the commonly used titanium alloy, it is not stronger than other alloys. Its typical applications include marine and offshore, critical airframe structures, and power generation.

Grade 6: Titanium alloy – Ti54I-2.5Sn

The Grade 6 titanium alloy is ideal when your product requires a material with good weldability and strength at elevated temperatures. This alloy is commonly used for applications including propellant containment for rockets and space vehicles, airframe, and jet engine. However, this titanium alloy offers medium strength.

Grade 7: Titanium alloy sometimes considered “pure” – Ti-0.15PD

This titanium alloy grade contains a small percentage of palladium, improving its corrosion resistance. It is similar to grade 2 but offers outstanding corrosion resistance, formability, and weldability.

However, the grade 7 alloy is less strong than other titanium alloys. Manufacturers commonly use this alloy for production equipment and chemical processing equipment.

Grade 11: Titanium alloy sometimes considered “pure” – Ti-0.15PD

titanium cnc turning part
Titanium CNC Turning Part

The titanium alloy grade 11 is similar to grade 7 but has a low tolerance for other impurities. Although grade 11 titanium alloy offers excellent corrosion resistance, high ductility, and formability, it has lower strength than grade 7. Its typical applications include desalination, marine, and chlorate manufacturing.

Grade 12: Titanium alloy – Ti0.3Mo0.8Ni

Titanium alloy grade 12 contains 0.3% molybdenum and 0.8% nickel. It offers excellent corrosion resistance and weldability and exhibits superior strength when exposed to excess heat.

Although this titanium alloy offers impressive features, it is expensive compared to other alloys. Typical applications for grade 12 titanium include shell and heat exchangers, aircraft and marine components, and hydrometallurgical applications.

Grade 23: Titanium alloy – T6AI4V-ELI

Titanium alloy grade 23, also known as TAV-EIL, exhibits optimum biocompatibility, excellent ductility and formability, and good fracture toughness. It offers lower strength than other titanium alloys and has poor relative machinability.

Typical uses of grade 23 titanium include orthopedic cables, orthopedic pins and screws, and surgical staples.

Benefits of Titanium CNC Machining

titanium milling
Titanium Milling

Titanium is a popular metal used in machining CNC parts for different applications. Below are some of the advantages of machining titanium:

  • Titanium offers maximum recyclability, ensuring its environmentally-friendly quality.
  • CNC-machined titanium parts have high usage in applications that require exposure to unfavorable environments due to their sustainability.
  • Titanium permits alloying with elements such as molybdenum, iron, nickel, vanadium, and aluminum.
  • Titanium-machined parts are non-magnetic and offer maximum oxide resistance.
  • Titanium CNC machined parts are non-magnetic and have an excellent strength-to-weight ratio.
  • Titanium’s biocompatibility, corrosion resistance, and non-toxicity make it a perfect choice for the medical sector. It also has high corrosion resistance from acids, chlorine, and seawater.

Surface Finishes for CNC Machined Titanium

You can strengthen your titanium CNC machined parts with various surface finishing options, improving their functionality and aesthetics. Typical examples of these surface finishes are:

anodizing titanium
Anodizing Titanium
  • Powder Coating
  • Anodizing
  • Bead Blasting
  • Metalizing
  • Painting
  • Polishing
  • PVD Coating
  • Chroming
  • Electrophoresis
Titanium Plating

Tips for Machining Titanium CNC Machining

what is titanium cnc machining

Although titanium offers excellent physical and mechanical properties, some setbacks often accompany machining harder titanium alloys, discouraging CNC shops from working with advanced materials such as titanium.

However, several product designers embrace titanium for quality machined parts, not minding the challenges. Below are various factors to consider for seamless titanium machining for multiple applications:

Use the Appropriate Tooling

As titanium continues to grow popular, tool designers devise means to improve titanium’s machinability. Advanced materials such as heat-resistant titanium carbo-nitride (TiCN) coated tooling and titanium aluminum nitride (TiAIN) can prolong tool lifetimes. However, uneven spacing between the cutting edges while tooling can disorient the constructive interference causing tool chatter.

It is also advisable to machine titanium with specialized, high-quality tools and constantly inspect and replace worn tools. Use a smaller diameter tool with many cutting edges because it maintains a consistent metal removal rate while preventing heat accumulation.

Stabilize Your Setup

Titanium is one of the metals that cause tool chatter during machining. Hence, ensure all things are to limit the vibration when machining titanium. Ensure all workpieces are held in place and secured to avoid deflection in the machined part.

It is advisable to use high-quality CNC machines with very firm tooling arrangements. However, reduce tool chatter by using shorter cutting tools in machining titanium parts.

Adjust the Cutting Parameters

Temperature management is one of the critical things to pay attention to in machining titanium. One of the effective ways to do this is to consistently apply high-pressure coolant directly to the cutting area to keep the cutting tool and the workpiece cool.

Likewise, you can blast the chips away from the cut area to prevent them from sticking to the machining tool. It is crucial to be precise about cutting parameters such as feed rates, chip loads, and spindle speeds in titanium CNC machining. It prevents extreme strain on tooling and equipment while preventing lingering in the same spot for too long.

However, it would help to evaluate if a different cutting approach, such as high axial depth and low radial engagement, could enhance cutting efficiency and mitigate machining temperatures.

Choosing the Right Titanium Grades for your CNC Machining

Choosing the suitable titanium grade for your products would help you consider the titanium alloys’ properties with your intended applications. For instance, it is advisable to use grade 23 titanium when creating products for medical applications. Also, you may want to consider using grade 6 titanium for products required to perform well at elevated temperatures.

Nevertheless, it would help if you let trained experts carefully machine your grades of titanium alloys for the best results because titanium CNC machining requires the proper tooling, patience, and expertise. Hence, if you need the assistance of professionals in choosing the suitable titanium alloy for your project, AT-Machining is your best bet.

titanium cnc machining services
Titanium CNC Machining Services

AT-Machining is a reliable CNC machining service provider. We offer a range of quality manufacturing capabilities with faster turnaround times. Our professional engineers and machinists have in-depth knowledge of the titanium CNC machining services and parts to handle your prototyping and mass production. Let us handle your CNC titanium machining, as we offer competitive prices.

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