As part of a joint research project Blaser Swisslube has been working with tooling specialist Kaiser to investigate the optimum combination of cutting tool and metalworking fluid for the machining of titanium. The results of this work are being put into practice at Swiss motorcycle racing specialist Suter Racing.

The red lights go out, the race begins and the 230 hp motor in the Suter BMW race bike howls as the rider puts his weight forward over the tank to keep the front wheel on the ground. After 2.6 seconds he has reached 62 mph (100 km/h), another 2.4 seconds later he is at 124 mph (200 km/h) acceleration that would a Porsche owner blush. This performance is only possible if the rider and motorcycle meet the highest requirements and the component parts of the machine must be to the highest. While people train hard to reach this standard, the machine must have a particularly sophisticated execution.

According to Roger Sutter of Suter Racing, the challenge is to build a motorcycle with the right rigidity at a low weight. “For us, every gram counts,” he says. To maintain this balance between weight and rigidity Suter uses a lot of titanium in the manufacture of its motorcycle frames. “The strength and light weight is perfect for us”, says Sutter. “However, titanium is also hard to cut and poses real challenges to find the optimum components for working with it,”

In a survey by the coolant manufacturer Blaser Swisslube it was shown that cutting tools and cooalnts only play a minor role in the purchase of a new machine. This is either because no consideration is given to the significant influence of the metalworking fluid and the cause-effect relationships with the materials and tools, or because their importance in the successful cutting process is underestimated. According to Christoph Wüthrich, Head of the Technology Center at Blaser Swisslube, metalworking fluid is only of modest importance in the industry. “On the  quiet, they are often considered just a necessary evil.”

To illustrate the importance of this necessary evil in the cutting process, Blaser set up its Technology Center at its headquarters in Hasle-Rüegsau, Switzerland. This 300m2 site is used to optimise customer machining processes using the . Christoph Wüthrich describes the latter as like “sometimes finding the right solution is like searching for a needle in a haystack because a metalworking fluid consists of many different additives.”

On this project for Suter, Blaser Swisslube partnered with Kaiser, whose director of Product Management, Hansueli Looser, echoes the comments on the machining of titanium: “We receive more and more calls from customers complaining about unaccepetably low tool life when machining titanium or inconel. The main reason for this is the occurrence of vibration.“ By finding the right combination of metalworking fluid and cutting tool geometry the chip flow could be improved and tool life and the associated vibration, reduced, if not eliminated.

The tests undertaken by Blaser and Kaiser took several months to complete with different cutting fluids and inserts being matched together to find the ultimate combination. The results of this project highlighted the significant improvemnts that can be made when the ciorrect cutting fluid is used, with tool life improving 15-fold. This winning combination was Blaser B-Cool 755 and the insert 655.389 from Kaiser, which resulted in wear on the insert of just 0.002 mm after machining 81 bores to a depth of 51 mm, at a cutting speed of 120 m/min, which is considered high for titanium.