While machining of titanium alloys no longer poses any major challenges for experienced machinists—when machining operations are straightforward—intricate sensor component designs made from titanium call for an appropriate tool design and an intelligent machining strategy. Article by Paul Horn GmbH.
“We have been relying on tools from Paul Horn GmbH for more than 30 years. The solution to our latest problem has once again reminded us of why,” explains Roland Burghart, who is in charge of turning at the Donaueschingen plant of Sick Stegmann GmbH. The problem related to the creation of axial recesses in intricate sensor components made from titanium.
Horn solved the task through a combination of measures, which included various special versions of its Mini system. Working in conjunction with Horn technical consultant Karl Schonhardt, the Horn designers devised a cut distribution for the difficult machining task.
The workpieces are installed inside highly sensitive gas flow measurement sensors. At the heart of these measuring units lie the oscillating transducers. The sensors are used, for example, in gas pipelines, for measuring flare gas, for vapour flow measurement, as well as in biogas plants. Sensor technology from Sick is intended to protect people from accidents, avoid damage to the environment, and supply accurate data. For this reason, the company demands a high standard of quality from its products. This starts with the individual parts and components. Tight tolerances, high surface quality, and difficult to machine materials are all part of everyday life for the Sick employees working in the area of CNC manufacturing.
To ensure high corrosion resistance, the engineers from Sick selected the titanium alloy Ti 6Al-4V (Grade 5) for the transducers. This alloy accounts for approximately 50 percent of worldwide demand for titanium. And that is because it offers a good balance between high strength and low density. The mechanical properties of this alloy are superior to those of pure titanium. One of the problems it poses during machining is that it has a tendency to work harden. When the friction becomes excessive due to the feed rate of the cutting edge being too low, work hardening of the material is induced. This shortens the life of the tools dramatically. When turning and milling titanium, it is vital to have sharp cutting edges, the right cutting parameters, and the appropriate tool coating in order for the machining of this material to be productive.
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