In the aerospace industry, titanium (Ti) alloys, especially Ti6Al4V, has been extensively used over other light weight alloys due to their high strength-to-weight ratio. However, the material and production costs have been major obstacles in the adoption of Ti alloys for a wide variety of applications. The machining of Ti alloys is one of the most time consuming and expensive mechanical processes in aerospace manufacturing. Based on previous literature on the topic, coated drills have had some degree of success in the drilling of Ti. To further the work, this paper conducts a comparative study in which Ti6Al4V plates are drilled with super hard coated drills such as Diamond-like-Carbon (DLC), AlMgB14 (BAM) and nanocomposite AlCrSiN. The results are compared with those of an uncoated drill bit. Working with a coating supplier, several variations of BAM coating have been applied and used in our drilling experiments. To evaluate the performance of these drills, scanning electron microscopy and confocal laser microscopy were used to assess the wear progress of each drill qualitatively and quantitatively. In drilling Ti alloys, the primary mechanisms of flank wear are abrasion, microscopic fracture (chipping) and attrition, which result in the detachment of the adhesion layer located at the cutting edge. For all the drills, the predominant wear occurs near the margin. From our drilling experiments, it has been observed that AlCrSiN and BAM drills have survived up to 58 holes and over 80 holes, respectively, while both uncoated and DLC drills have experienced catastrophic fracture at less than 40 holes.

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