Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Drilling Titanium


#1

Karen, A machinist friend suggested drilling titanium with carbide
drills (very brittle material). Steady pressure with low RPM’s. I
drilled some titanium pipe today using a masonry drill bit. I
think the smallest one is 1/8 inch diameter. I center punched the
pipe with a sharpened punch, and chucked the drill bit very tight
and so only about 1/4 inch was beyond the chuck. masonry drill
bits are carbide tipped and cheap. You could possibly grind back
on the carbide to reduce the drill diameter. Bill in Vista


#2

Bill,

The carbide in masonry drills is a different grade than what is
used in most metal working and you can get carbide drills down to
.020" maybe even smaller. The reason that carbide is not the
best for drilling Ti is that carbide cannot be sharpened to the
same degree that steel can and what you really need in drilling
Ti is a sharp cutting edge. This is not to say that carbide will
not work as you have found out but if you are going to drill much
Ti that you will find that regular High Speed Steel drill bits
are faster and cheaper.

I used to be stationed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, while I
was there I watched them build a deep submergence vessel from Ti.
They were making the pressure vessel out of 5" thick Ti
hemispheres that were 5’ in dia. and the superstructure was made
from 1" x 3/8" Ti bar stock which had many holes drilled and
tapped in it. I enjoyed talking to the men working on it and
asked them about the processes. They told me that they would use
2-3 drill bits per hole and 2-3 taps, and they found that the
high speed steel was better than carbide as it was cheaper and
lasted just about as long. For what it’s worth.

Jim

James Binnion Metal Arts
2916 Chapman St
Oakland, CA
(510) 436-3552


@jbin


#3

I’ll soon start on my first project involving titanium. In know I
cannot solder it. But I’d like to know if I should use special drill
bits (what kind, what speed?), special files, etc. Is there any
litterature out there that I should read? Thanks in advance, Linda


#4

For drill bits, I would suggest Cobalt containing high-speed steel.
I use diamond impregnated files, but the cheapo ones. The books you
should read are about machining, not jewelry making.

Be careful, titanium is HIGHLY flammable. The small chips and dust
formed in the machining process, and high heat that can be formed
from a dull tool or too fast of a cutting speed, can cause some
spectacular fires. Titanium is the only metal that can burn in a
pure nitrogen (as well as oxygen) environment. If a fire starts DO
NOT DOUSE WITH WATER, use granulated salt or sand to suffocate the
flame. Dousing burning titanium with water causes the titanium to
react and create titanium oxide with residual hydrogen gas
production, which you definitely do not want when something is
burning. Keep a fire extinguisher handy for all of the other stuff
that will catch fire after the titanium has burned itself out.

The bulk form of titanium in rods, tubing, sheet, etc. is not
flammable unless provoked well beyond the limits of simple jewelry
making.

Daniel J. Statman, Statman Designs
www.statmandesigns.com
@Dan_statman


#5

You should drill with High Speed steel bits and plenty, plenty of
lubrication. Slow speeds are best. Heat travels very slowly in Ti.
The bit can heat up to temperatures that can both untemper it and/or
cause the chip to weld to the bit and break it. Cool and slow is the
game.

In most cases ordenary files work fine. Some alloys of Ti, say Grade
#5(6/4) are very hard. They can cause rapid wear. Diamond is good,
but in general files are cheap and replacement is easy. Bill

Bill

Reactive Metals Studio, Inc.
PO Box 890 * 600 First North St. * Clarkdale, AZ 86324
Ph-928/634-3434 * Ph-800/876-3434 * Fax-928/634-6734
E-mail- info@reactivemetals.com
Catalog- www.reactivemetals.com


#6
    I'll soon start on my first project involving titanium. In
know I cannot solder it. But I'd like to know if I should use
special drill bits (what kind, what speed?), special files, etc. Is
there any litterature out there that I should read? 

Cobalt drills will work ok but solid carbide is better, it depends
on how many holes you need to drill. Use fairly a slow rpm, around
500-800 for small drills (2mm). You can use standard files although
they will dull quicker than with other metals. Wes


#7

If you are using thin titanium a punch works really well. Several
years ago I found a plier punch at a tools dealer during the Tucson
show. I was amazed at how well it worked. The plier punch is one
of my favorite tools. I use titanium shapes for earrings. lrj