Should I use ceramic cutting tools?
Author: Mike Ramsey
Recently, I was asked, “Should I use ceramic cutting tools?” My first question is, “What type of materials are you machining?” Some materials machined with ceramics are cast irons, hardened steels, and some nickel-based alloys. The answer to this question is up to you, but are you ready to use ceramics?
When deciding to use ceramic cutting tools, make sure all the safety elements are in place. These tools run at higher speeds than carbide tools, and they run dry in many cases. The higher speed and dry cutting conditions cause the chips to be molten metal type, so we must guard our operators from hot chips.
Ceramic cutting tools take more heat than carbide cutting tools, therefore the higher cutting speeds. Carbide cutting tools begin to soften around 870°C. Ceramics don’t begin to soften until 2,200°C. In ceramic machining, we’ll need to run speeds at least 2x those of carbide; however, in many cases we’ve seen ceramics run at 3x to 4x faster than carbide cutting tools.
When running higher speeds, we need to ensure the fixturing or chucks are rated for the higher speeds and the guarding on the machine can contain the hot chips generated from higher speeds. We must also make sure the machine can run at higher feed rates. Remember, as the speed goes up, the overall feed rate increases.
There are basically five types of ceramic cutting tools. What type will you need? To make sure you have the correct type of cutting tool, you’ll need to work with your preferred cutting tools supplier. They’ll guide you in your selection. Just make sure we keep our operators safe and continue to increase our productivity while reducing cost and giving customers the very best quality.
Mike Ramsey, president of CMR Consultants, retired from Kennametal Inc. as vice president, global machine tool industry sales, after 39 years of service in sales and marketing. He can be reached at [email protected].
This article was originally published by Supporter of Ceramics Expo USA Aerospace Manufacturing and Design.