Customised tools coated by hipims technology for the machining of nickel-based superalloys

Aims to get a family of customised tools for the machining of ni-based alloys which allow a reduction of the manufacturing time and increased life in service thank to use of hipims)pvd coatings on hard metal tools, also implementing new machining strategies and tooling designs.

Ni-based super-alloys are widely used in the aeronautical and aerospace industry due to their excellent mechanical properties at high temperature and high oxidation resistance. New chemical grades and thermal treatments of these materials have been developed during the last years to meet the needs of this industry. Several barriers limit the use of Ni super-alloys: firstly, they are very costly considering the high percentage of elements such as Ni, Mo, Cr, etc. Another limitation is based upon the difficulty for machining these materials. Nickel based alloys have been classified as difficult to cut, due to their peculiar characteristics such as poor thermal conductivity, high strength at elevated temperatures, tendency to work hardening, high chemical reactivity with the tool material and the presence of hard abrasive carbides in their microstructure. These characteristics, lead to high power consumption and frequent tool changes that reduce productivity (thus requiring long processing times and excessive time-outs of tool replacement). Among the potential solutions in order to reduce manufacturing costs of Ni super-alloys, the development of tools with enhanced performances of cutting is one of the most promising ones. Thus this project will address this technical challenge from this point of view. New hard metal compositions, new designs and surface treatments can be considered. Regarding the base material, the most widely used is WC-Co. the amount of Co (acting as metallic bonding) and carbide distribution implies different responses of the material in terms of hardness, yield strength, toughness or wear resistance. The modification of the design of the tooling (cutting edge geometry, angle of attack, shaving detachment, etc.) also plays a major role, very significant in terms of process efficiency. Finally, the application of protective surface treatments has been demonstrated as one of the most potentially successful approaches. Specifically, PVD coatings are capable to achieve good performance at relatively low costs (significantly lower than CVD technology). In this sense, HIPIMS technology (High Power Impulse Magnetron Sputtering) appears as a coatings technology which is able to provide improved layer properties based on ternary and quaternary structures, such as AITi(Si)N, AICr (SI)N or Chromium, Aluminium and Titanium based oxides. This proposal involves the participation of a sound consortium, which is formed by a R&D performing SME Flubetech (dedicated to PVD treatments) leading the project, Tantal (design and manufacturing of hard metal tools) and Kanter (machining of Ni-based superalloys, among other materials). In Hi-Carbide project, Flubetech will be developing PVD formulations based on hard solid solutions of Cr2O3 and AI2O3 deposited by HIPIMS technology. This technology is currently offered by the company only throughout the multinational they represent in Spain, but the objective is to develop it internally, being able to offer this service on their own and based on own innovative advances. Tantal will study new designs of the tools and chemical compositions and microstructures, thus requiring a close collaboration with Kanter and Flubetech since the need of compatibility between coating/substrate systems and the good agreement between the design and the machining parameters. On the other hand, Kanter will address the study of different machining strategies of the targeted materials (Inconel 625, 718 and 925 grades, mainly). Different processing parameters regarding roughing and finishing operations will be studied in terms of tool life and surface integrity. AIN-Surface Engineering Area (technological center focused on Materials Science) and Mondragon University-MGEP (technical University with wide expertise in machining processes) will support the companies in their corresponding fields of knowledge.
Project ID: 
11 687
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
880 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Metals and Alloys
Market Area: 
Industrial Equipment and Machinery

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