Generally, superalloys have superior strength and toughness compared to conventional engineering material. However, while applications for such materials are growing, the improvement of their machinability has not been improved in parallel. Of particular interest to the aerospace industry, are nickel-based superalloys. Inconel 718, which is one type of nickel-based superalloy, is considered difficult-to-machine at room temperature due to the fact that it retains much of its strength at high temperatures. Conventional machining methods applied to these materials results in excessive tool wear and poor surface finish. One approach, which is becoming increasingly popular with difficult-to-machine materials, is laser assisted machining (LAM). This study assesses the effect of LAM on the machinability of Inconel 718 using a triple-layer coated carbide tool in terms of cutting forces, tool wear and surface finish. A focused Nd:YAG laser beam was used as a localized heat source to thermally soften the workpiece prior to material removal. Finishing operations were assumed throughout the experiments. Cutting tests were performed over a wide range of cutting speeds (ranging from 100 to 500 m/min) and feeds (ranging from 0.125 to 0.500 mm/rev) to determine the optimum cutting speed and feed for each tool material. Results showed a significant drop in all three components of cutting force when thermal softening caused by the laser power was in effect. A two to three fold improvement was observed in terms of surface finish and tool wear under LAM conditions when compared to conventional machining.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.