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aerospace manufacturing


through the machine, through the spindle, and through the center of the cutting tool to just below the cutting edges. Channels radiate out from the center of the tool, following the fl ute pattern to a venting port. As Pete Tecos, 5ME’s executive vice president, explained,


“We are delivering liquid nitrogen to the tool completely inter- nally, refrigerating the tool to −321°F [−196°C], and venting the nitrogen away from the workpiece as a gas. And nitrogen is an inert, nongreenhouse gas. It’s 78% of the air we breath normally.” And while you might think that supercooling a carbide cutting tool would make it more brittle, Tecos said the opposite is true: it’s tougher.


Raising the Critical Temperature for Faster Cutting Supercooling the tool internally creates a heat-sink effect, absorbing the heat from the cut much more effi ciently than


external chip zone cooling, including external cryogenic chip zone cooling. As we said at the outset, heat is the limiting factor in a well-tuned machining operation. Every application has a “critical temperature,“ the point at which any further rise in temperature causes a dramatic increase in tool fl ank wear. The goal is to operate just below that point so that fl ank wear is predictable and throughput is maximized. 5ME’s ap- proach effectively raises the critical temperature of any given application roughly 300°. That gap is gravy. You can run that much faster and generate that much more heat and still have acceptable tool life. 5ME’s system includes a patented sub-cooler that


removes this pressure generated heat from the line, return- ing the liquid nitrogen fl ow back to −321°F and condensing dual-phase nitrogen (liquid and gas) back to 100% liquid. Very little of the nitrogen actually escapes the small vents in the tool during machining as nitrogen’s liquid-to-gas expan- sion ratio is 1:700.


The 5ME cryogenic machining system in action. Cooling


the tool internally to −321°F (−196°C] creates a heatsink effect that absorbs far more heat than can be removed by external methods.


The Productivity Increases Appear to be Game Changing In addition to the F-35 example mentioned earlier, 5ME has demonstrated the technology on a wide variety of diffi cult-to- machine applications with between good and jaw-dropping results. In one test on a titanium 6AI4V aero engine component at a feed rate of 0.005 ipr (2540 mm/rev) at a depth of cut of 0.010" (0.254 mm), a Sandvik GC1115 insert (designed for heat- resistant superalloys) cut well for 2.7 minutes and managed 327 sfm (889' [271 m] in total). But a 5ME cryogenically cooled insert cut at 654 sfm for 60 minutes with only minimal wear. That’s twice the speed and more than 32 times the tool life. In another test on cladded Inconel 625, 5ME used a coat- ed-carbide insert cutting at 85 sfm (25.9 m/min) with fl ood coolant as the baseline. They increased the cutting speeds by 30% and tried both coated and uncoated carbide inserts with fl ood coolant, plus an uncoated cryogenic insert. At 3000' (914.4 m; 29 minutes), the tool wear on the inserts using fl ood coolant had exceed 0.014" (0.356 mm) (they were a wreck), while the cryogenic insert continued to cut well. In fact, wear on the cryogenic insert remained under 0.008” (0.200 mm) as the tool approached 5000' (1524 m). Given the relative tool wear, cryogenics delivered twice the tool life and a fi ve-fold improvement in surface fi nish at 130% increased speeds. 5ME has also demonstrated a 40% improvement in tool life cutting aerospace carbon fi ber composites, a 40% improvement in tool life in cutting diesel iron with a three-fold


68 — Aerospace & Defense Manufacturing 2016


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