What It Takes to Excel at Titanium Machining

When you need an ultra-strong part with an excellent fatigue life, titanium is a great choice of material.

This versatile metal has a uniquely high tensile strength to weight ratio: it weighs about half as much as stainless steel but is nearly 30% stronger! In addition to its exceptional strength, titanium is also known for being rust and corrosion-resistant.

Available in many varieties, titanium can be alloyed with aluminum, manganese, iron, and other metals to further increase its strength, as well as its ability to withstand high temperatures.

But despite the many benefits of titanium, any job shop will tell you that it’s notoriously difficult to machine. That’s why when you need titanium machined parts, you need a shop you can trust.

At Peerless Precision, we have the right capabilities, equipment, and personnel to take on the toughest titanium jobs. Today, we’ll explore common titanium applications, plus machining challenges that we’ve managed to overcome with great success.

Common Titanium Applications

Titanium Coldfingers

Due to titanium’s durability, it’s extremely useful for a wide variety of applications. If you’re in any of these industries, your parts could benefit from this material:

  • Medical. Known for its bacteria-resistant properties, titanium is often used in medical machining for applications such as implants, surgical devices, and pacemakers.
  • Aerospace. In high-risk aerospace applications requiring heat resistance and strength, such as airframes and engines, titanium is a trustworthy material that never fails.
  • Automotive. Because titanium can withstand temperatures of over 600 degrees, it’s ideal for hot environments. Internal combustion engine components such as valves, connecting rods, and pistons and sleeves are often made from titanium.
  • Defense. Salt water has virtually no corrosive effect on titanium, making this material a great choice for Navy parts that come into direct contact with the sea, like propeller shafts and underwater manipulators.
  • Water and energy. Titanium impellers are often used for centrifugal pumps to move fluids away from the center of rotation.
  • Commercial optics. As experts in optical machining, we specialize in making titanium coldfinger weldments used in submicro cryogenic cooling systems for infrared, night vision, and thermal imaging equipment.

Challenges of Machining Titanium

Here’s a look at what makes titanium so difficult to machine:

  • Material hardness. While it’s not hard enough to require diamond turning, titanium is significantly harder than stainless steel or aluminum. Machining titanium often results inbroken tools and workpieces if not done carefully.
  • Special tooling requirements. Machining titanium requires coated carbide tooling to maximize cutting strength while minimizing friction that can lead to work hardening. We have a dedicated dual-spindle CNC lathe for titanium coldfinger weldments, but we can generally run titanium in any of our machines with the correct tooling.
  • Research and development. When machining a new titanium part, machine shops often need to experiment to get the process right. Many shops will no-quote customers or attempt to machine titanium without putting in that necessary upfront work, but not Peerless Precision. We do what it takes to machine titanium parts to perfection.

Peerless Precision Excels at Titanium Machining

Want a quick example of why we’re the go-to shop for titanium machining? Recently, a customer reached out to us in need of a coldfinger weldment. The part included a titanium cone with a wall thickness of .002”. The customer had already been to several shops that turned the job down and one that couldn’t machine the part properly.

Nevertheless, we were excited to take on the challenge. We offered the customer a non-recurring expense budget for research and development so we could determine how to properly machine the part. By intricately cutting the cone, we verified the right thickness, and now we’re prepared to purchase tooling to try different machining methods until we get it right.

Our titanium expertise has been years in the making. When we first started machining titanium coldwells, for example, it was common for us to lose 100 parts before getting a good one. But that was 25 years ago. Since perfecting our technique, we haven’t had to scrap a titanium coldwell since.

When it comes to machining titanium, you need a dedicated shop with a proven track record. Make Peerless Precision your one-stop titanium shop. Request a quote today

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