New work materials are developed continually to improve the capabilities of finished parts, making them lighter and stronger, among other properties. When these materials catch on, cutting tools must adapt to their often challenging properties.
This feature focuses on cutting tools for three aluminum-containing materials: titanium aluminide, high-silicon aluminum and lithium-aluminum alloys. While none are brand new, keep in mind that it takes years and sometimes decades of application work to create demand for “new” materials. When metallurgical changes are made to enhance the performance of machined components, a drop in machinability is the typical result.
Titanium aluminide—particularly gamma TiAl—is being used to make jet engine turbine blades that make next-gen engines lighter and more fuel-efficient. There is also growing interest in using TiAl in automotive applications, such as turbofans and engine valves. Arcam AB, a Swedish 3D printing company, is researching using additive manufacturing to make TiAl turbochargers for the auto industry.