Confluent Maine handles difficult-to-machine alloys


Confluent Maine has machined many miles of custom tubing from dozens of different alloys. Whether a project requires aluminum, zinc, or any alloy in-between, our experienced machinists possess the key insights to perform the job efficiently and properly on the first run.

Fundamentally, every different alloy presents a unique challenge to machinists. Understanding the right “feeds and speeds” to efficiently remove material while producing extremely tight tolerance parts requires a blend of art and science. At the molecular level, carbide cutting tools remove or cut material by heating it to a temperature at which is plasticizes. In the case of gun drilling a hole, that plasticized material is then broken off of the work piece and carried away from the cutting site by high pressure coolant. The broken off material is referred to as a “chip” or swarf. Understanding the shape of the cutting tool, cutting tool materials, coolant pressures and numerous other variables all contribute to the ultimate success of the job.

Alloys vary widely in their hardness, which directly impacts their machinability. Difficult to machine alloys such as Hastelloy or Inconel require far more time to drill, whereas aluminum, which is relatively soft, machines very rapidly.

Other alloys pose different challenges. For example, nitinol, which machinists at Confluent Maine were the first to drill over 20 years ago, causes excessive wear on drills and cutting carbides. Through trial and error and ingenuity, Confluent Maine has developed reliable processes that produce top quality results. To learn more about some of the industry specific alloys with which Confluent Maine is familiar, see below:

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