CNC Machining Titanium: How We Do It

CNC machining titanium
Titanium has long held a reputation for being a difficult and expensive material to machine due to its unique properties. But as titanium parts have become more common, manufacturers have learned procedures and techniques that make CNC machining titanium more efficient and cost-effective. At Reading Plastic, we know how to overcome the challenges of titanium CNC machining to deliver high-quality products that meet the needs of both your application and budget.

Why is CNC Machining Titanium Difficult?

Titanium and its alloys are extremely popular in aerospace and biomedical applications because they are lightweight with high strength, excellent fatigue performance and high resistance to aggressive environments. Titanium parts last longer and perform better than other metals, remaining free of rust and degeneration. But the very properties that make titanium such a high-performance metal also make it difficult to machine, affecting the cutting action more severely than other metals.

Titanium has poor thermal conductivity, which means, during machining, heat gets trapped in the work zone. This can quickly damage cutting tools and cause metallurgic reactions that lead to sticky build-up or chips welding to the cutter. Titanium alloys also have a low Young’s modulus (the modulus of elasticity in tension) which causes spring back and chatter during machining. This can lead to poor surface quality in the final product.

Titanium’s high work hardening tendency and the stickiness of the alloys can create long continuous chips that can entangle the tool and impede function. Cutting speed and feed rates must be closely monitored when CNC machining titanium, otherwise you can end up with melted or broken tools.

And lastly, just like aluminum, a significant amount of the material – 50-90% – may need to be milled or turned away to produce the final product. Skilled machine shops know how to choose the right machining conditions for specific titanium alloys so that production costs can be kept to acceptable levels.

How Does Reading Plastic Overcome the Challenges of CNC Machining Titanium?

If you need expert titanium CNC machining, call Reading Plastic today at (610) 926-3245 or email us at

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