Stainless steel is not the easiest material to machine. You need the right equipment for a start. Small lathes, and machines designed to work with softer alloys, simply aren’t strong enough for adequately machining stainless steel. You need equipment that can make the deep cuts needed when machining austenitic stainless steel – without slowing down the set surface or feed speeds.
Vibration can be a problem, so care should be taken to reduce excessive shaking in the drives, gearboxes and machine beds, as well as at the cutting tool and its mountings.
What Tools To Use When Machining Stainless Steel
The ideal tools for machining stainless steel are either cemented carbide or high-speed steel (HSS) – which can be sintered or wrought.
These are usually used when you need faster speeds or higher feeds than those produced when using HSS. Tool tips are usually made from tungsten carbides, but can also be composed of a blend of tungsten and other metal carbides, such as chromium, titanium or niobium. These carbides are then bonded with cobalt. You get two types of tungsten carbide grades – straight and complex. Straight grades are used for machining duplex and austenitic stainless steels, while the complex are used for machining the ferritic and martensitic grades.
Molybdenum and tungsten high-speed steels (HSS) are great for high feed, low-speed machining operations – especially if they involved complex tool shapes and variable cutting edge stresses. Molybdenum is the most commonly used HSS as it offers a good combination of hardness and strength. Tungsten is better suited for applications needing good resistance to abrasion.
When machining stainless steel, it’s essential to keep your cutting tools razor sharp. This can be achieved through careful grinding and honing of your tool faces. In addition to prolonging the working life of your tools, regular sharpening and maintenance also helps to improve:
- Tolerances, accuracy and finish
- Occurrences of tool breakage
- Productivity between regrinds
- Power usage efficiency
At Steelmor, we’ve been in the stainless steel industry for over 40 years. We have a team of qualified and experienced machinists committed to supplying you with cost-effective and quality stainless steel products on time, all the time.
Why not call and chat with us today to see how we can help you with your stainless steel machining requirements.