Several processes fall under the “machining” umbrella, and these include turning, drilling, milling and threading. As a rule, stainless steel is more challenging to machine than carbon steel, and the higher the alloy content, the harder it is to machine. This is why it’s very important to use tools and inserts that have been specifically designed for stainless steel, in order to ensure increased tool life and optimal chip length.

Austenitic stainless steel – such as 304 and 316 grades – is the most commonly machined steel. Although it has poor chip breaking properties and a high work hardening rate, there are several techniques that can be used to guarantee successful machining.

The most crucial step is to ensure you have the right machine for the job. This may sound obvious, but not everyone is aware that not all machines are created equal, and smaller ones that have been designed primarily for machining brass or mild steel will not be strong enough to properly machine stainless steel.

It’s also important to ensure that the machine is positioned correctly and anchored properly – there shouldn’t be excessive vibration, and the distance between the toolbox support and the cutting tip should be as short as possible.

Cutting tools should be made from carbide or high speed steel and must be kept sharp at all times. Make sure you use the largest tool possible in order to help dissipate the heat. Thinning lubricants with paraffin helps to keep the workpiece and tool cool at times where heavy cuts are being made at slow speeds.

To avoid work hardening as the tool enters the workpiece, it’s important not to interrupt the cutting process. As with all tooling “get in and get out” is a great rule to work by!

At Steelmor, we have a team of qualified and experience machinists who are committed to supplying you with cost effective and quality stainless steel products on time, all the time. Why not call and chat to us today to see how we can help you with your machining requirements.

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Images of a steel machining lathine
Images of a steel machining mill with lubricant