Engineers at Valenite decided to take an alternative approach to adapting existing cutting fluids to fit an industry. Focusing on total costs and throughput improvement, Valenite developed ValCOOL Aerotech VP from the ground up for the aerospace industry to address the challenges found in difficult-to-machine titanium, high-temperature alloys, and other aerospace materials.
The heavy-duty semi-synthetic also offers better cooling abilities than traditional soluble oils, according to Mark Goedtel, Product Manager, Valenite. “This allows us to better control and eliminate the heat generated at the cutting interface,” he said. “Aerotech VP is developed with a very highly formulated EP additive package. These EP additives provide extremely high levels of lubricity and tool life. Aerotech VP is specifically formulated to help prevent the buildup of material on the tool, which greatly extends tool life.”
Valenite cites tool life extension of 270% or more.
Aerotech VP will work with all materials but is optimized for use with titanium, Inconel, and aluminum. It works exceptionally well with 5553 and 6AL4V—traditionally poor heat conductors that are “springy and notoriously difficult to cut,” according to Valenite. Titanium has a small application range of speeds and feeds compared to other materials, which Aerotech VP uniquely addresses, the company says.
Another aerospace-focused Valenite product is VP2003 with MicroForm technology. It is ideally suited for aerospace materials due to Valenite’s new proprietary manufacturing process that inhibits tungsten carbide (WC) grain growth during the sintering process, according to Jeff Eckhout, Product Specialist for Rotating Products.
“While many carbide cutting tool manufacturers use micrograin tungsten carbide grades for indexable inserts, the challenge has always been to control the WC grain size during the important sintering step of the manufacturing process,” he said. “During this step, some of WC grains grow in size and shape. This grain growth can be near the insert edge being used for cutting and is a source for chipping and fracturing.”
Traditional methods used to overcome this weakness include the addition of other cubic carbides in the WC substrate to help control grain size. However, Eckhout continued, these cubic carbides can also weaken the bulk substrate due to the incompatibility of the different materials. Adhesion of these materials, along with defects or porosity, becomes another potential failure point in the carbide insert. Companies then add more binder (cobalt) to the WC substrate to toughen the insert or hone the insert edge to overcome the inherent weakness.
VP2003 has what Eckhout terms “extremely uniform grain structure” and maintains its hardness at cutting temperatures. It also has an “excellent combination of both toughness and hardness,” he said. “This allows us to maintain a sharp uniform cutting edge with toughness and abrasion resistance. These material properties are a perfect combination for difficult-to-machine aerospace materials. The VP2003 up-sharp cutting edge can cut through the gummy, difficult-to-machine alloys like a razor blade, thereby reducing work material buildup on the cutting edge, which can cause catastrophic insert edge breakage. It is also hard enough to handle the abrasiveness most often associated with aerospace materials.”