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Drilling Titanium Wire

Hi everyone, I’d like to drill into 4mm titanium wire, every
time I’ve tried under different speeds, and under water the
normal twisted drill would burn easily and wouldn’t drill
properly. any suggestions?! Iris Saar Isaacs, Australia

Iris, You’ll need a carbide drill bit to cut titanium
efficiently. Keep your work wet…whatever you do. Titanium
dust is highly toxic. -Pete-

Dear Iris, A high speed steel drill should do the job OK. Use a
slow speed when you’re drilling - you’ll find that the Ti doesn’t
"grab" as much. The drill might be burning because it’s running
at too high a speed. You shouldn’t have to be “drilling under
water”. That’s a bit startling. I am trying to imagine how you
might do that. It doesn’t sound very safe.

When I’m drilling Ti, I tend to “free” the drill regularly by
pulling it out of the hole so the swarf is regularly cleared from
the cutting edges and spiral. Neither do I apply too much
downwards pressure while I’m drilling.

Are you drilling through the diameter of the 4mm round wire, or
down through its length to make a chenier or tube? I do both and
find it best to use my motor-in-the-handpiece unit (Volvere type)
rather than my flexible shaft or drill stand. The motorised
handpiece seems to give me more control and sensitivity to the
"grabbiness" of the Ti.

Please let me know if the above helps. If you are anywhere near
Sydney, give me a ring on 02 9580 2808. I’d be only too pleased
to advise further or help.


I have to disagree with you on the titainum. The dust is not
toxic. It is one of the few metals that is used for long-term
implants in the human body. The dust can be flamable and this is
a good reason for wet grinding but the drill shavings do not
represent as much of a fire danger. Carbide is not a top choice
for drilling it either as it is not as sharp as colbalt alloy
high-speed steel drils. The secret to drilling Titainum is sharp
tools, good coolant. For small shop use Westlube or Anchor
Lube which are lanolin based cutting lubricants work well.
Water by it self is not a good lubricant in machine shops they
use water soluble oils mixed with water for the coolant. Slow
speed, high feed rates and lots of coolant are recomended.


James Binnion Metal Arts
4701 San Leandro St #18
Oakland, CA 94601