The Right Tools for Titanium Plate Sawing

As the demand for titanium products continues to rise (particularly in the aerospace and medical industries) production needs to improve to meet those needs. Titanium has never been an easy metal to machine and fabricate, though, which continues to have an impact on its price. This means the more efficient and reliable tools we use, the more productive and cost-effective we can be.

Sawing titanium plate presents something of a challenge because of its sheer size. It requires specialized equipment and blades made of strong, reliable materials. While there are many ways to cut different titanium products, not all of them are suitable for dealing with large plates. With the right tools, though, it’s possible to produce some great results.

Band Saws
Band sawing is an effective choice on many types of titanium, and it is possible to use it for plate as well. It requires a great amount of water-soluble or sulfo-chlorinated cutting fluids to protect the blade – which must be made of materials that are highly resistant to abrasions – and it is a slightly slower method, but it is definitely an option.

Waterjet Cutter
Waterjet cutting is fast, creates minimal tangential forces, and provides an incredible amount of precision. It is environmentally sound is safe to use in more workplaces. Also, because this is a cold cutting method, it won’t lead to the thermal problems that can result from other cutting methods. Titanium plate in a wide range of sizes can easily be fed through the cutter and in many cases it won’t require special clamps to hold it down.

Plasma Cutter
Depending on the size of the machine, a plasma cutter can handle titanium plates up to 96′ wide and 264′ long. It can cut angles, around curves, and always leave a clean finish. It may look like a really complex tool, but it’s actually easy to learn and use effectively.

Best Practices and Techniques

Whether you’re using a mechanical saw or waterjet cutter, there are some important guidelines that must be followed to produce the best results with every cut.

  • Use low cutting speeds – The feed rate won’t heat up the blade the same way that cutting speed does. This means it’s possible to push the feed to its allowable maximum and still get good results.
  • Use high feed rates – High pressure, high temperature (HPHT) applications like those in oil and gas wells require piping that can withstand the constant use. This industry also requires the high corrosion resistance of titanium, whether it’s in topside, subsea, or downhole applications.
  • Keep the feed moving – Don’t ever stop feeding the plate while the saw is cutting. A blade spinning in place against the titanium can cause work hardening on the metal or force the saw to seize up.
  • Use plenty of cutting fluids – Always keep the coolant running to avoid thermal issues and to wash away the wasted materials.
  • Keep the tools sharp – Tool maintenance is critical. If the saw isn’t cutting well, it will require more energy to do the same job, and the results will be unsatisfactory. Replace the blades as soon as they show signs of wear.
  • Use plenty of cutting fluids – Always keep the coolant running to avoid thermal issues and to wash away the wasted materials.

The ductility of titanium makes it a challenging metal to saw and fabricate, but by combining the best techniques with the most effective tools will create reliable and consistent results.