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ISSN : 2249-5762 (Online) | ISSN : 2249-5770 (Print)
IJRMET Vol. 3, Issue 2, May - Oct 2013
Techniques to Improve the Effectiveness in Machining
of Hard to Machine Materials: A Review
Manu Dogra, 2Vishal. S. Sharma
Dept. of Mechanical Engg., UIET, PUSSGRC, Hoshiarpur, Punjab, India
Dept. of Industrial & Production Engg., Dr. B.R. Ambedkar NIT, Jalandhar, Punjab, India
The use of high strength and heat resistant materials is increasing
day by day in aerospace, automotive, steam turbines and nuclear
applications. These materials are having particular characteristics
such as poor thermal conductivity, high strength at elevated
temperature and resistance to wear. Thus during machining of
these materials friction and heat generation at the cutting zone
are the frequent problems, high cutting forces and poor surface
characteristics are common. Lot of work has been reported in
the past in order to improve the effectiveness of machining of
hard to machine materials. This paper presents an overview of
major advances in techniques as Thermally assisted Machining,
cooling//lubricating techniques as cryogenic techniques, air/
refrigerated cooling, use of solid lubricants and other cooling
methods to improve the productivity of machining of hard to
machine materials.
Hard materials, Thermally Supportive Techniques, Cryogenic
Cooling, Solid Lubricants
I. Introduction
The use of higher strength and heat resisting alloys with high
melting temperatures is increasing these days in manufacturing
of aero engines/ steam turbines/ Bearing industry and other
automotive related applications [1-2]. These materials include
super-alloys, refractory metals and hardened steels etc [3].
Materials with resistance to wear are difficult to machine, these
materials often encounter extreme thermal and mechanical stresses
close to cutting edge during machining, which make the cutting
forces and cutting temperature very high and lead to a short tool
life [1, 3]. Fig. 1 show the typical characteristics associated with
machining of hard to machine materials [4-5].
Due to these typical characteristics of machining of hard to
machine materials, over the years many techniques have been
developed for improving tool life and surface quality in machining
of these materials. These techniques are broadly classified into
two categories as thermally supportive techniques and cooling/
lubricating techniques [5,6,8]. The above approaches have been
tested by the researchers in past for their ability to keep process
temperature low in order to reduce the tool wear and to increase
the surface quality of the machined surface. This paper reviews the
major advances in these techniques in the recent past and finally
concrete findings of these techniques are discussed.
II. Thermally Supportive Techniques
Thermally supportive machining is the process that uses an
external heat source to heat the workpiece. As a result, workpiece
softens, the yield strength, hardness and strain hardening of the
work- piece reduces and deformation behaviour of the hard-tomachine materials changes from brittle to ductile. This enables
the difficult-to-machine materials to be machined more easily
[9,10]. Hot machining process prevents the cold work hardening
by heating the workpiece above recrystalization temperature and
thus reduces the resistance to cutting and favors machining with
low machine power consumption, high material removal rate and
productivity [11-13].
In order to increase the effectiveness of thermally supportive
machining, the heat source should be locally oriented and
effectively controllable as per the intensity of heat is concerned
[14,15]. The external heat source used in Thermally Supportive
Techniques (TST) are mentioned in fig. 2 [9, 15-19].
Fig. 2: Heat Source in TST
Fig. 1: Characteristics of Machining Hard Materials
Machining of these advanced engineering materials results in high
machining costs and low productivity. Excessive generation of
heat at the cutting zone is mainly due to low heat conductivity of
these materials [3]. Further high material hardness and strength
together with high temperatures at the cutting zone could result
in excessive tool wear and thus short tool life and poor surface
quality [6,7].
In past researcher utilizes all these methods for heating the
workpiece, but as per the adaptability of these methods to
conventional systems, process economics is concerned the results
achieved with laser beam, and flame heating are encouraging
A. Laser Beam as Heat Source in TST
Laser beam heating method is the fast and effectively temperature
rise at specified area can be achieved with minimum heat affected
zone or thermal distortion [9,21]. As mentioned in Figure.3, the
laser can orient locally in front of the cutting tool, only the volume
of material to be removed is effectively heated. Depending upon
the machining operation the laser beam is positioned in such a
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IJRMET Vol. 3, Issue 2, May - Oct 2013
ISSN : 2249-5762 (Online) | ISSN : 2249-5770 (Print)
way so as to achieve a uniform temperature distribution at the
cutting edge without heating the cutting tool [9].
setup of flame heating with turning operation. Heating torch was
mounted on tool carriage to provide a moving heat source while
machining [29].
Fig. 4: Flame Heating Setup With Turning [29]
Fig. 3: Laser Beam Setup in Turning [22]
It is simple to use laser-heating source in turning operation due
to the fixed nature of the cutting tool. In turning operation, laser
beam variables are its position, spot size, incident angle and
tool–beam distance. Laser beam is generally kept normal to the
workpiece surface in turning operation as this positions results in
large temperature gradient through thickness near the cutting edge
[23]. For milling, which is commonly used machining operation
for various applications, the multiple laser beams can be used in
different orientations along the surface of the workpiece. As in
milling large area is covered by the cutter, thus multiple beams
are preferred [24-25].
Author reported that during the laser beam supported machining
of ceramic material, the material is removed mainly due to the
combination of brittle fracture and plastic deformation. Further
result reveals that average temperature near the cutting zone
plays a vital role in controlling the chip formation and reducing
the cutting forces as well as specific cutting energy [26-27].
Researcher reported that tool wear was strongly dependent on
the material heating temperature, and there is an optimum material
heating temperature for the longest tool life. A short tool life was
achieved when material-heating temperature was lower than the
optimum temperature. Thus in order to optimize the tool life one
has to critically evaluate the material heating temperature [13,28].
During the laser assisted machining of pure Titanium, Author
reported that LAM produces the smoother machined surfaces
with less grain pullout and smaller depth of the deformation zone
During the turning of Inconel-718 with LAM, tool wear both Notch
and flank reduced with increasing material heating temperature
up to 540ºC in comparison to conventional turning. Also with
increase in cutting speed in LAM the tool wear decreases, which
was contrary to the conventional machining [9].
B. Flame Heating as Heat Source in TST
Tigham is the innovator of Hot Machining was first to conduct
experiments on hot machining. In flame heating mixture of gases
or LPG is burnt to produce a flame, which is further use to heat the
workpiece material during machining. Fig. 4 shows the general
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Concept of flame heating has been reported mainly with turning
During the turning with flame heating the variation of mean chip
reduction coefficient with respect to temperature of workpiece is
shown in Figure. 5. It is observed that the chip reduction coefficient
reduces with increase in temperature, which indicates that the
machinability of the material improves with increase in workpiece
heating temperature. Tool life also improves with increase in value
of heating temperature. Further the model was developed and it
was observed that the effect of temperature of work piece is found
to be the most significant on tool life [30]. Author reported that
during hot machining of austenitic manganese steel using liquefied
petroleum gas and oxygen gas as mixture for flame generation,
with increase in heating temperature both tool wear and cutting
forces reduced [31].
Fig. 5: Analysis of Chip Reduction Coefficient With Heating
Temperature [30]
The flame heating is easy to use but there is a problem of focusing
the heat spot and fine controlling the temperature with flame
heating in comparison to LAM.
III. Cooling/ Lubricating Techniques
In machining, high temperatures are generated in the region of
the tool cutting edge, and these temperatures have a controlling
influence on the rate of wear of the cutting tool [32]. The heat
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IJRMET Vol. 3, Issue 2, May - Oct 2013
generated during a cutting operation is summation of plastic
deformation involved in chip formation, the friction between
tool and workpiece and between the tool and chip [33]. Much of
this heat remains in the chip, but a portion is conducted into the
tool and workpiece [34]. Conventionally, cutting fluid is used to
cool and lubricate the cutting process, thereby reducing tool wear
and increasing tool life [35]. As cutting fluid is applied during
machining operation, it removes heat by carrying it away from
the cutting tool/workpiece interface [36]. Several technologies
like use of cryogenic cooling, solid coolants/Lubricants, MQL
(minimum quantity lubrication)/NDM (near dry machining), and
compressed air/ gases have been developed in recent past for
controlling the temperature in the cutting zone during machining
of hard to machine materials. Researchers are focusing on looking
for environment friendly methods in cooling.
A. Cryogenic Cooling
In cryogenic cooling the liquid nitrogen at -196°C is applied to the
cutting zone for reduction of temperature. The flow of nitrogen
is focused to the point where it is needed. As nitrogen evaporates
harmlessly into the air, there is no cutting fluid to dispose. Thus it is
an environment friendly alternate to the conventional flood cooling
[37,38]. Cryogenic cooling is the effective way of controlling
temperature in the cutting zone below the softening temperature of
the cutting tool material. During the machining of Titanium alloy
using uncoated carbide tools, with cryogenic cooling, maximum
flank wear reduces 3.4 times as compared to dry turning and 2
times as compared to wet turning [39].
Cutting force with cryogenic cutting is less than that with dry
cutting. This is because application of cryogenic fluid reduces
the coefficient of friction at the interface of the tool-chip over
the rake face [40]. Author reported that while turning of AISI
1060 steel with carbide inserts, cryogenic cooling with liquid
nitrogen jet provided reduced tool wear, improved surface finish as
compare to wet and dry machining. Beneficial effects of cryogenic
cooling by liquid nitrogen were due to effective cooling, retention
of tool hardness and favorable chip-tool, work-tool interactions
[41]. Spraying LN2 at the cutting zone reduces the chemical
reactivity and thermally induced tool wear between a titanium
alloy workpiece and cutting tool [42]
B. Solid Coolants/Lubricants
Graphite and molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) are the predominant
materials used as solid lubricant. In the form of dry powder these
materials are effective lubricant additives due to their lamellar
structure [43]. Other components that are useful solid lubricants
include boron nitride, polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE), talc, calcium
fluoride, cerium fluoride and tungsten disulfides.
Author reported that Solid-lubricant-assisted hard turning
produced low value of surface roughness as compared to the
dry hard turning. The decrease in surface roughness due to solid
lubricants can be attributed to the inherent lubricating properties
of the solid lubricants even at extreme temperatures [44]. Solidlubricant-assisted machining is a novel concept to control the
machining zone temperature without polluting the environment.
Minimal Quantity Lubrication (MQL) or (NDM) Near dry
machining or micro-liter lubrication, very small lubricant flow
(ml/hr) is used. The lubricant is mixed with air and delivered
near to the cutting edge [46-47]. In comparison to conventional
cooling, it is cost effective, wastage of coolant is minimum and
exactly strikes the cutting edge during machining and process
productivity is high [48-49].
During the turning of hardened steel (AISI 4340), it was observed
that cutting force was lower during minimal fluid application as
compared to that during dry and conventional wet turning. In
the present investigation the tool–chip contact length was the
least during minimal application followed by wet turning and dry
turning over the entire cutting range. The cutting tool temperature
was also lower in case of minimal fluid application condition
as cooling occurs due to both convective and evaporative heat
Author reported the effect of air temperature in MQL milling of
titanium alloy. The longest tool life and lowest surface roughness
were achieved under a MQL environment with an air temperature
of -15˚C, while not affecting the workpiece material hardness
D. Air/Gas as Coolant
Water vapor and air are cheap, pollution-free and eco-friendly
alternatives in cooling. Therefore these are good and economical
coolant and lubricant. Researchers in the past explored lot on the
concept of using green materials as coolants.
Author reported that chilled air, generated by a Vortex Tube
(VT), has been found to be an efficient heat dissipation method
in machining. VT can split input chilled compressed air into two
air streams, one cold and the other hot, with significant temperature
difference, yet without using any external energy and resulted in
improved productivity of the process [51].
IV. Conclusion
1. With the use of Thermally supportive techniques improvement
in the tool life, surface quality and reduction in cutting forces
and tool vibration was observed.
2. Use of carbide tools with TST in machining of hard materials
has resulted in overall cost reduction in the process without
compromising on the quality of surface achieved after
3. With the use of Laser as heat source it very important to
optimize spot size, angle of incidence and beam distance.
4. The most effective external heat source is laser beam. The
plasma torch approach has difficulties in accurately controlling
the size of the heated area. The development of a shorter
wavelength laser, which has higher absorption coefficient
by metals, is need of hour in the laser assisted machining
5. Flame heating is easy and economical to use but there is a
problem of focusing the heat on a particular spot with fine
controlling the intensity of heat.
6. Positioning of nozzle and Optimization of the flow rate
and pressure of liquid nitrogen is important in order to get
continuous flow of liquid nitrogen without over-cooling of
the workpiece.
7. Solid lubricants are environment friendly and effective in
reducing the tool wear, also produces no harmful effect on
the newly generated work-surface.
8. With MQL technique, a remarkable reduction of machining
costs can be obtained because the quantity of lubricant used
is very small.
9. Air, water vapor and other environment friendly gases
mixtures are better solutions for green cutting for hard to
machine materials. Air when mixed with oil gives better
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ISSN : 2249-5762 (Online) | ISSN : 2249-5770 (Print)
performance. The use of water vapor as coolant is encouraging
due to their better lubrication qualities.
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[51]T.T.Cockerill, Thermodynamics & Fluid mechanics of a
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Manu Dogra is working as a Assistant
Professor in Mechanical Engineering
Department at UIET, PUSSGRC,
Hoshiarpur, India. He did his PhD from
Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute
of Technology (Deemed UniversityGovernment of India) Jalandhar,
Punjab, India. He has contributed about
twenty research papers in international
journals. His area of interest includes
Machining, statistical modeling and
Vishal S. Sharma is working as an
Associate Professor in the Department
of Industrial & Production Engineering
at Dr. B.R. Ambedkar National Institute
of Technology (Deemed UniversityGovernment of India) Jalandhar, Punjab,
India. He obtained his PhD in the field
of Metal Cutting from Kurukshetra
University. He did his Postdoctoral
Fellowship from Machining Department
at Arts et Metiers ParisTech, France. He has contributed a number of
research papers at the international level in the area of optimisation
of production systems and automation.
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