Cutting edge radius is a crucial factor affecting surface integrity during metal machining, which determines product performance. However, the exact mechanism of how the cutting edge radius affects machined surface has not yet been understood, especially lacking in-situ evidence during the material removal process. In this article, effects of cutting edge radius on surface roughness, subsurface deformation and work hardening of nickel-based cast superalloy are studied through an in-situ imaging approach. Based on continuous high-speed filming and digital imaging correlation (DIC) techniques, detailed chip formation and quantitative subsurface plastic deformation under various cutting edge radii are analyzed, and the formation of built-up edge (BUE) is observed when using a large edge radius. Furthermore, when the cutting edge radius is greater than the uncut chip thickness (h), the thickness of plastic deformation increases dramatically. On the other hand, the machined surface roughness can be improved when the cutting edge radius is between 30% and 60% of h. The sharp cutting tools or the cutting edge radius is higher than 60% of h result in a poor surface quality on the machined surface during nickel-based cast superalloy machining. The effects of cutting edge radius on machined surface generation are systematically categorized as cutting with chipping, cutting with significant ploughing, and cutting with ploughing accompanied by BUE formation.

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