Titanium is a strong yet lightweight silver metal growing in popularity for use in the aerospace and medical industries. It’s also commonly used in jewelry, scissors and mobile phones. Another reason for its wider use is its corrosion resistance. As a common alloy, titanium is often mixed with iron, aluminum and other metals. Here are important points to know about titanium laser cutting.
Qualities of Titanium
Titanium is favored as a material used for parts in aircraft and medical devices, as it has enormous strength, which can render if difficult to cut. Titanium is also as strong as steel and weighs half as much. On the other hand, it’s much stronger than aluminum, but heavier.
Titanium is also sensitive to higher temperatures, therefore the cuts must be made at lower temperatures to avoid warping or damaging the material. When cutting titanium with traditional methods, it’s difficult to achieve clean consistent cuts. Titanium usually requires special techniques for cutting angles.
Machines and Techniques for Laser Cutting Titanium
The key to getting the most reliable cuts is to use a modern cutting machine, such as a water jet or laser cutter. A computer numerical control (CNC) machine simplifies the cutting process through programming and automation. It’s an effective choice for high volume titanium laser cutting of plate, sheet, tube or bar stock to make highly detailed parts.
With a CNC machine, you can program precise cuts made by a laser beam that heats metal to a level of drilling holes or removing material. Cuts are programed using X, Y and Z axes. The material moves under a stationary cutting head that executes the cut. A fiber laser machine is useful for cutting, engraving, etching or marking titanium.
One of the primary techniques for cutting thick strong material such as titanium is to use high assist gas pressures while maintaining or increasing high feed rates. Gas pressure and speed variables play a big role in protecting material from melting or burning around edges. Use of an inert gas such as nitrogen helps cut down on oxidation reactions and cools the material.
Due to the low density and high strength-to-weight ratio of titanium, cutting this metal alloy is more complex than cutting other metals. It’s often best to outsource to experts if you need a high volume of precision cuts. Contact us at Serra Laser to learn more about titanium laser cutting for your projects.
Titanium, like aluminum, is a non-ferrous metal because it lacks iron, so it resists corrosion. The metal maintains strength while bonding with other elements such as oxygen, which is why it’s commonly used as an alloy. Here are key points to keep in mind about titanium laser cutting.
Strength of Titanium
Although titanium is as strong as steel, it’s about 40-45 percent lighter. It also has a melting point higher than 3,000 degrees F, making it useful as a refractory metal, which has a strong resistance to wear and tear. The surface of the metal is so strong that titanium is being considered by scientists as a material for storing nuclear waste. It’s currently used in a wide variety of surgical implants and tools by the medical industry. It’s a favored metal due to its non-toxic qualities and resistance to corrosion.
Deciding on how to cut material as strong as titanium usually comes down to the thickness of the metal. Thick titanium plates are more efficiently cut by a carbon dioxide laser due to its higher power capacity than other laser cutters. Laser cutters are preferred over mechanical machines because of the ability of laser technology to cut small holes in relation to the thickness of the metal.
Cutting Titanium with a Laser
The most efficient way to cut a sheet of titanium metal is with a CO2 laser that uses either nitrogen or oxygen as its assisted gas. One of the issues that technicians must be aware of is that titanium can burn from the laser’s heat. In some cases, modifications must be made to the nozzle and special mixtures of gas must be made to prevent the metal from burning.
With twice the elasticity of steel, titanium has flexible qualities. Its non-toxic and non-metallic qualities have provided multiple applications for tools in the medical industry. Titanium alloy tools are also used by the military and the aerospace, chemical and sporting good industries. The fact that titanium weighs half as much as steel makes it attractive for machine parts.
CNC machines are commonly used by fabricators for titanium laser cutting because they provide automated cutting capabilities based on programming. They deliver the fastest and most accurate way to cut thick metal without sacrificing quality. Even though titanium can be cut with manual tools at lower cost, CNC machines are more efficient for high volume runs.
Titanium is favored in manufacturing for its strength as an alloy, yet lighter weight and resistance to corrosion. Laser cutters, particularly machines with CO2 lasers, are commonly used for titanium laser cutting. Contact us at Serra Laser to learn more about our fabricating services.