New Titanium Machining Technology – CSIRO


Published on Jul 19, 2012 by  

John Barnes, CSIRO Titanium Technologies leader, talks about the new faster titanium machining technology developed by CSIRO, thermally assisted machining.


A CSIRO machining technology capable of machining titanium components up to 80% faster has the potential to reduce costs of machining by up to half.

The technology, called thermally assisted machining (TAM), uses heat from laser energy to soften the metal immediately in front of the cutting tool, so that it is more easily removed – reducing wear on the cutting tool and prolonging tool life by up to three times.

TAM increases machining productivity in several ways – rough cutting time is reduced by up to 80 per cent and the material removal rate can be up to five times faster, with similar increase in the feed speed of metal past the cutting tool.


The technology is supported by the Australian Department of Defence New Air Combat Capability Industry Support Program and Lockheed Martin, with the aim of providing Australian suppliers of precision machined titanium components with a globally competitive advantage.

CSIRO, leading a consortium including Queensland based SME Ferra Engineering, Lockheed Martin, RMIT University and CAST CRC, is applying the technology to develop an integrated production cell, which incorporates a moveable laser head into a 5-axis CNC (computer numerical control) milling machine in a factory environment.

CSIRO plans to licence the TAM technology to producers of machining equipment.

CSIRO anticipates that the TAM technology will boost Australian industry competitiveness in production of precision milled and machined components for the global aerospace and automotive markets. The technology can be exploited for machining parts made from titanium, titanium alloys, and other hard metals such as nickel based superalloys and high strength steels.

Ferra Engineering, CSIRO’s Australian partner on the project, already holds several contracts for manufacture and assembly of aerospace components for major customers including Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Marvin Engineering, including machining of aerospace assemblies made from titanium for the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program.

“Ferra’s innovation in titanium machining has been essential to our success in winning previous JSF contracts, so we’re excited to be a part of the CSIRO industry team working to commercialise TAM. We expect the TAM technology to be important in our continued growth as a supplier to the aerospace industry,” said Mark Scherrer, Managing Director of Ferra Engineering.

“We feel that reducing costs through innovation is a shared responsibility across the global supply chain and we are making an investment in Australian innovation. Lockheed Martin is proud to be a part of the industry team that CSIRO has assembled,” said Graham Bentley, Director of International Business Development Australia at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.

With the technology, CSIRO hopes to foster growth of a specialised machining capability in Australia. Australian companies wanting to use TAM technology will be able to access CSIRO support for development of specialist skills, including best practices, know-how and guidelines for optimal machine operating conditions.

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