Guide to Machining Titanium

Aug 24,2023

Known for its impressive strength-to-weight ratio, excellent corrosion resistance and high-temperature stability, machining titanium is a task that requires expertise and consideration. As titanium finds its way into key industries such as aerospace and medical devices, understanding how to efficiently process this remarkable material has become critical.

This article aims to provide dos and don’ts for machining titanium, providing guiding advice for successfully meeting challenges while taking advantage of its unrivaled properties.

Titanium processing technology

The machining of titanium is a complex process where tool life is of utmost importance. To achieve higher productivity and longer tool life, it is crucial to employ effective machining methods, especially during roughing. Here are some recommended strategies for titanium machining:

Dynamic turning

When it comes to turning Ti Alloys, utilizing the appropriate strategy is crucial, and dynamic turning proves to be highly effective. This method allows for increased productivity and a safer process during rough turning. It is imperative to select the right software for dynamic turning.

In this approach, we prioritize avoiding full engagement (Ae 100%) and instead focus on maintaining a constant engagement angle (<30°), which ensures consistent temperature and chip averages. By doing so, optimal control over tool pressure, tool wear, and chip management is achieved.

Dynamic turning

Dynamic milling

Dynamic milling is a highly efficient technique used for roughing with solid carbide tools or indexable tools with longer cutting lengths. In order to optimize this process, advanced roughing/dynamic milling strategies are often employed, utilizing specialized algorithms. These algorithms focus on two main calculation directions.

The first direction involves maintaining a constant feed rate (Vf) and a constant arc of contact when entering concave or convex areas by adjusting the step-over. On the other hand, the second direction focuses on using variable feed rates in order to maintain an average chip thickness when encountering concave or convex areas (where the arc of contact changes).

The key principle behind dynamic milling is to maximize the depth of cut based on the specific application while minimizing the side step (Ae). By doing so, the highest metal removal rate (MRR) can be achieved.

Additionally, it is advantageous to use smaller depths of cut or higher feeds when the cutting edge has more time on each pass. Furthermore, this technique allows for low torque requirements in machines, which contributes to its effectiveness.

Overall, dynamic milling offers significant benefits in terms of efficiency and productivity when roughing with appropriate tooling and optimized cutting parameters.

Helical milling

Helical milling is a highly efficient method for material removal in roughing titanium, particularly with the use of powerful machines that can provide high torque. It delivers exceptional results in terms of both efficiency and precision, making it the optimal choice for machining operations involving titanium.

Titanium Machining Tips

To enhance the efficiency of titanium machining, implementing specialized strategies can make a significant difference. At our titanium machining services, we have developed expertise in selecting optimal cutting parameters to minimize machining time. In addition to parameter optimization, there are alternative machining strategies that can greatly enhance cutting speeds when working with titanium.

Ledge Tools

Ledge Tools are a product of General Electric, designed with precision and efficiency in mind. These tools feature a unique thin protruding ledge that is specifically engineered to cut through titanium. Unlike traditional tools, only this slender ledge is used, resulting in a more durable cutting edge that is easier to sharpen.

As the chip produced during the cutting process is also thin, there is no noticeable difference in performance. The flank of the ledge may wear quickly initially, but then remains consistent as the rest of the ledge gradually wears down at a slower pace, ensuring long-lasting effectiveness.

Rotary Inserts

Rotary inserts play a crucial role in titanium turning operations. However, their efficacy was once constrained by the lack of precision in machine tool design. Thankfully, with the advancements in manufacturing technology, we can now harness their potential to the fullest.

The fundamental idea behind rotary inserts lies in their round shape and rotational movement while cutting through materials. This innovative design facilitates faster heat transfer and mitigates tool overheating. Consequently, cutting speeds can be substantially elevated, enhancing overall efficiency and productivity levels.

Ultrasonically Assisted Metal Removal

Adding ultrasonic vibration to the cutting tool actually makes chip formation easier. Titanium chip has very bad elasticity that is worsened by the deformation hardening when the cutting edge starts to cut the material.

Ultrasonic waves encourage chip fracture instead of deformation and that has a positive influence on the tool life, surface finish, the characteristics of the tool, it prevents material buildup on the cutting edge and allows the machinist to increase cutting speeds.

Ultrasonically Assisted Metal Removal

How is machining titanium different from other materials?

Titanium is renowned for its exceptional strength, making it a top choice in the realm of metals. It excels in demanding applications that subject materials to extreme heat and tension, displaying unrivaled durability.

Moreover, titanium performs admirably even in highly corrosive environments. The subsequent section delves deeper into the myriad applications that harness these remarkable properties.

However, one should be mindful of titanium’s cost, which may present a deterrent for some. In instances where the application permits, individuals often gravitate towards steel or aluminum as more economical alternatives.

These substitutes offer comparable qualities at a lower price point. Depending on the specific requirements of the application, opting for steel or aluminum can save costs while still delivering excellent performance.

Machining Titanium vs. Steel

Machining Titanium

Titanium is a strong, lightweight metal with excellent corrosion resistance. It is often used in aerospace, medical, and automotive applications due to its high strength-to-weight ratio. It also provides superior wear resistance compared to other metals, making it ideal for machining parts exposed to extreme conditions or heavy loads over time.

Additionally, titanium’s low thermal expansion rate means it can retain its shape better than other metals when exposed to high temperatures.

Machining Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is another popular material used in machining because it has excellent corrosion resistance and durability. It is also more affordable than titanium and easier to machine since it is less brittle than other metals.

Additionally, stainless steel has a low thermal conductivity, making it great for parts that need to remain cool even when exposed to high temperatures for extended periods. This makes stainless steel an ideal choice for parts like exhaust manifolds or engine components that may be exposed to heat during use.

Difference Between Machining Titanium and Stainless Steel

When it comes to machining titanium and stainless steel, there are several important factors to consider. Titanium is a remarkable material known for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, impressive resistance to corrosion, and ability to withstand high temperatures.

However, machinists often face challenges when working with titanium due to its low thermal conductivity and tendency to react with cutting tools.

In contrast, stainless steel is less reactive and easier to machine due to its higher thermal conductivity. While it may not match the weight or corrosion resistance of titanium, stainless steel still offers many advantages. It is more affordable and has lower brittleness, making it a popular choice for certain applications.

Understanding these distinctions between titanium and stainless steel is crucial in selecting the most suitable material for specific machining purposes. Ultimately, the decision should be based on the end application’s requirements.

By considering the benefits each material brings in terms of wear resistance, machinability, cost, and other factors, you can make an informed choice that meets your needs effectively.

Machining Titanium vs. Aluminum

Aluminum and titanium, despite their lightweight nature, possess distinct characteristics that contribute to their respective weights. With a low specific gravity of 2.7 g/cm3, aluminum stands out as significantly lighter than its counterparts such as steel, which is nearly three times denser.

Conversely, while titanium weighs approximately two-thirds more than aluminum, its inherent strength allows for the usage of lesser quantities. It is worth noting that a fraction of the amount of titanium can yield the same physical strength achieved with aluminum.

This advantage has led to the utilization of titanium in various applications including aircraft jet engines and spacecrafts. By leveraging its strength and light weight properties, titanium effectively reduces fuel costs.

Aluminum vs. Titanium

Because both materials offer high strength and low weight, it’s important to look at other differentiators when deciding which alloy to use for your parts.

Strength/Weight: In critical situations where every gram counts but you need strong parts, titanium is the way to go. Titanium medical components, complex satellite components, fixtures, and brackets all succeed precisely for this reason.

Cost: Aluminum is the most cost-effective metal for machining or 3D printing. While titanium adds cost, it still can drive value. Lighter-weight parts translate into fuel savings in transportation applications, and titanium parts simply last longer.

Thermal Properties: Applications that require high thermal conductivity, such as a heat sink, will benefit from aluminum. For high-temperature applications, titanium’s high melting point benefits applications where heat resistance is a priority, such as aerospace engine components.

Corrosion Resistance: Both aluminum and titanium offer excellent corrosion resistance.

Titanium’s corrosion resistance and lack of reactivity make it the most biocompatible metal, so it’s great in medical applications, such as surgical instrumentation. Ti 6-4 also holds up well to salty environments and is often used in marine applications.

Common Uses for Machining Titanium

Aerospace Industry

Titanium and its alloys, especially the grade 5 titanium alloy, are suitable for making parts used in airplanes. For example, they are used in making rotors, compression blades, landing gear, and missiles. The major titanium characteristics that make it suitable for such function are its elevated strength-to-density ratio, anti-corrosion property, and heat tolerance.

Biomedical Field

Titanium, due to its inert, non-toxic, and biocompatible properties, is suitable for making many products in the medical world. For example, titanium grade 23 alloy which engineers also call surgical titanium, is suitable for making body implants.

Other products made from titanium that you can in the biomedical field are titanium alloys for making artificial hip and knee joints. Titanium coatings are for reducing wear and damage. Also, medical components can be made using titanium alloys.

Automotive Industry

Due to its properties such as corrosion resistance, durability and ultimately strength, titanium is applicable in making many vehicular parts. For examples of titanium CNC parts in the automotive industry include connecting rods, turbochargers, exhaust systems, and bodywork frames.

Automotive Industry

Jewellery Industry

Another industry with a profound liking for titanium is the jewelry industry. This is because together with its lightweight and less dense properties, titanium is also comfortable to wear.

Titanium is also popular in making jewelry such as wedding bands, rings, and watches due to its anti-rust and anti-corrosion properties and fashionable appeal.

Electronic Industry

Titanium is used in making hybrid circuit boards which seems better and more effective than traditional ones. Titanium is suitable for making hard disks. Here, it replaced aluminum due to its heat resistance property and its purity which increases the disk capacity.

Other Titanium Applications

Titanium is also applicable in other scenarios. For example, with rapid prototyping, you can make titanium CNC parts such as eyeglass frames, walking poles, bicycle frames, clocks, etc., using titanium.

Things to consider when machining titanium

Titanium is an excellent material for many applications, but it has its own unique characteristics that must be respected during the CNC machining process. Things to consider when machining titanium include:

Buildup of heat

Titanium alloys can be harder than common CNC machining and milling materials like aluminum alloys. This can result in increased tool wear and, simultaneously, an increased heat buildup at the point of contact.

For these harder titanium alloys, it may be necessary to reduce the CNC machine RPM while using a larger chipload. A high-pressure coolant can also ease the strain on your cutting tools and help produce higher-quality titanium parts.

Some commercially pure titanium (Grades 1–2) may be less liable to generate excess heat but precautions should still be taken.


An issue more prominent with commercially pure titanium than titanium alloys is a galling and built-up edge.

Titanium grades 1–2 can become gummy during machining and can end up sticking to the cutting tool. However, this can be mitigated by using a high-pressure coolant and ensuring swift chip removal.

Failure to address this problem can also compound the issue of heat buildup, accelerating the dulling of cutting tools.


Titanium and its machinable alloys are less rigid than other common metals, and they therefore require a tight grip during CNC machining.

In addition to a rigid machine setup, it can be beneficial to maintain constant tool motion without interrupting the cut.

Machining titanium requires specialized knowledge and equipment to achieve optimal results. This guide has provided comprehensive information on the characteristics of titanium, recommended machining techniques, and the importance of proper tool selection and cutting parameters.

However, if you have further questions or require expert assistance with your titanium machining needs, please do not hesitate to contact us at Our team of professionals is equipped with extensive experience and expertise in this area and is ready to provide you with the support you need.

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