The objective of this project is to experimentally investigate the influence of Minimum Quantity Lubrication (MQL) on tool wear and tool life in micro hardmilling. The experiments were performed on stainless steel using uncoated WC micro-mill with the nominal diameter of 508 microns. The tool wear is characterized by the volume of the material loss at the tool tip. In order to reveal the progression of the tool wear, the worn tool was examined periodically under SEM after a fixed amount of workpiece material removal (1.25 mm3 or 5 slots in this study). The tool life was characterized as the amount of material removed, instead of the conventional cutting times. The feedrate and the spindle speed were fixed, and two levels of axial depth of cut (50 and 75 microns) were compared. The higher depth of cut leads to longer tool life. The machining performance under MQL is superior to the dry machining for both process conditions in terms of the tool life. The cutting forces in feed direction and the surface roughness at the bottom of the slots were also examined during the experiments. The magnitude of the machining forces showed cyclic pattern for both MQL and dry machining. The SEM images and the cutting force signals suggested that the dominant mode of the tool wear in micro-milling is edge chipping and abrasive wear at the tool tip. The loss of the micro-grain of WC at the cutting edge leads to edge chipping, which reduces the effective cutting diameter; the abrasive wear enlarge the edge radius, causing the cutting force increase. As the cutting edge radius reaches a certain dimension, the whole edge was stripped off, a new edge formed with a smaller edge radius, and the cycle restarts. Under MQL cutting conditions, three cycles were observed before tool failure, while under dry machining conditions, the tool only experienced two cycles before tool breakage. The surface roughness at the bottom of the slots improved significantly with the application of MQL for all levels of the tool wear. The surface roughness did not increase drastically as the tool wear increased. It reached a plateau after the tool wear went into gradual wear state. Further experiments and theoretical analysis will be pursued in the future to gain a deeper understanding of tool wear mechanism in micro-milling.

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