Nickel alloys are more difficult to machine than other grades of stainless steel, mainly due to their immense strength. Still, they can be machined using conventional methods, as long as extra precaution is taken. Nickel alloys harden rapidly and generate high heat during cutting.
When machining nickel alloys, it is important to consider the capacity of the machine being used. Drilling large holes and tapping nickel alloys requires machines with extra power, even though nickel alloys can be face-turned and bored on almost any machine.
Tools will dull fairly quickly if they are used on nickel alloys, so it is important to change or re-sharpen them frequently. C grade inserts should be used if possible, and lubricants and coolants should be used for best results.
Remember, nickel alloys may be the strongest type of stainless steel, but all grades of stainless (nickel alloys, Duplex alloys, chrome molys, 6 molys, and 300-400 grades) require stronger machining tools than regular steel. Tools used on stainless grades should always be sharp, and should be replaced regularly. Additionally, tools should be rigid and use no more than 75% of their rated capacity.
Contact Penn Stainless to learn more about how to properly machine stainless steel. Our stainless experts can guide you in the right direction.