Machining Titanium: Introduction
Titanium can be economically machined on a routine production basis if shop procedures are set up to allow for the physical characteristics common to the metal. The factors which must be given consideration are not complex, but they are vital to successful handling of titanium.
Most important is that different grades of titanium, i.e., commercially pure titanium and various titanium alloys, will not all have identical machining characteristics, any more than all steels, or all aluminum grades have identical characteristics. Like stainless steel, the low thermal conductivity of titanium inhibits dissipation of heat within the workplace itself, thus requiring proper application of coolants.
Generally, good tool life and work quality can be assured by rigid machine set-ups, use of a good coolant, sharp and proper tools, slower speeds, and heavier feeds. Use of sharp tools is vital, because dull tools will accentuate heat build-up, to cause undue galling and seizing, leading to premature tool failure.
The machinability of commercially pure grades or titanium has been compared by veteran shop men to that of 18-8 stainless steel, with the alloy grades being somewhat harder to machine.