Water Jet Cutting Titanium

Water jet cutting is one of the most versatile options for machining titanium in a variety of thicknesses. This simple method has been particularly useful in the medical aerospace industries, where clean, exact cuts are so important, but it has many advantages that make it a top choice for many other applications, as well.

In simple terms, water jet cutters use an abrasive substance to create a clean, burr-free cut that does not require any secondary finishing. Titanium is a very difficult metal to machine, but using this cutting method addresses a lot of those concerns while providing quality results.

What are the Concerns for Milling Titanium?

While reasonable production rates are achievable with a number of cutting methods, titanium does have a number of characteristics that must be considered before the cutting begins. This includes:

  • Unusual chip-forming and thermal conductivity – Titanium produces a very thin chip and has an unusually small contact area with the tool. This high coefficient of friction between chip and tool face can cause a lot of stress on the tool, and the thermal conductivity leads to an excessive build-up of heat on its edge and face.
  • Titanium reactivity – Titanium has a high rate of work hardening, which means that some cutting tools can cause seizing, galling, and abrasions.
  • Low modulus elastic – With an elastic modulus that is so low, there is a greater chance of creating work piece deflections, chatter, and rubbing problems.
  • Surface integrity – Titanium is used in a lot of applications that require precise work, and any roughness or damage to the sub-surface layers can have an impact on the results. If titanium is machined in an abusive manner (e.g. with dull tools), it may produce an overheated white layer which may be softer or harder than the base material.

How Does Water Jet Cutting Address Those Concerns?

Water jet cutting uses high-pressure water with an abrasive slurry to cut through the metal, leaving edges that are typically free of contamination and burrs, as opposed to mechanical methods that can deform the metal and can lead to thermally damaged chips. Using a water-jet can bypass a lot of these issues and provide many other benefits because there are no mechanical components that come into contact with the heated metal.

These cutting methods can manage almost any thickness of titanium, but the thicker it is, the longer it will take. Cutting speed is an exponential function of the thickness, but water jets can still be the more effective choice for smooth, clean cuts.

What are the Real Benefits?

Using water to cut through titanium has a number of intrinsic benefits.

  • There is no heat affected zone (HAZ) where the cut was made, which means no deformation as a result of the heat.
  • The cut edges will not have excess hardening.
  • There are no hazardous fumes or vapors thrown into the air.
  • It is possible to make intricate, precise cuts.
  • Material consumption is minimized, and there is very little need for reworking.
  • No stress is added to the material during the cutting process because there are no mechanical components coming into contact.

Water jet cutting is an efficient, cost-effective method to machine titanium – even when the material in question is extremely thick. It addresses all the characteristics that make titanium such a notoriously difficult metal to work with, and provides the quality products needed in medical and aerospace industries. While it can take some time to work through the thickest titanium, the end results should be worth the wait.

For more information on Titanium Processing Center visit: www.titaniumprocessingcenter.com.

Titanium Processing Center (Corporate)
51513 Industrial Road
New Baltimore, Michigan 48047
Toll-free: 888.771.9449    |    Phone: 586.716.7555    |    Fax: 586.716.8430 

Titanium Processing Center Texas Group
8601 Fawn Trail Bldg. #2
Conroe, Texas 77385
Phone: 936-271-7773    |    Fax: 936-271-7783