High Performance Cutting of Lead-Free Copper Alloys



Low levels of lead are often added to copper alloys in order to improve their machinability. This generally effects longer tool life, improved chip breakage, lower cutting forces and better surface quality. However, legislation more and more tends to prohibit the use of lead in copper alloys, as lead is harmful to the environment and health. Consequently, the machinability deteriorates tremendously, especially with respect to chip break-age and tool wear.

It is the aim to develop a High Performance Cutting (HPC) for machining lead-free copper alloys. In this connection, the material removal rate, process stability, productivity and economic efficiency are supposed to be significantly increased compared to the state of the art. The investigations intend to tremendously strengthen the competitiveness of companies from the copper industry.

Our Approach

In collaboration with the participating companies, extensive cutting tests in turning, drilling and thread manufacturing of lead-free copper alloys will be performed on the available test stands at WZL. The analysis of machinability is carried out in dependence of the materials’ chemical com-position, microstructure and mechanical properties. Based on that, technologies for a high performance cut-ting of the investigated copper materials are developed.

Our Services

  • Fundamental investigations on the machinability of lead-free copper alloys
  • Adaption of the tool macro and micro geometry, in order to enhance chip formation and surface generation
  • Analysis of the influence of different tool materials and coatings on wear behaviour and performance of the tools
  • Analysis of the influence of different lubricoolants as well as lubricoolant supply strategies (e.g. high-pressure lubricoolant supply) on chip breakage, surface quality and tool wear
  • Optimization of cutting parameters
  • Testing of the developed solutions and technologies under near-production conditions
  • Definition of machinability values with respect to chip formation, tool wear, cutting force and surface quality

Public funding: The research work is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, supported by the “Stifterverband Metalle e.V.” and the “AiF” within the program of “Industrial Collective Research (IGF)”.


Do you have questions concerning this project?

Your contact:

M. Sc. RWTH Stefan Baier
E-Mail: S.Baier@wzl.rwth-aachen.de
Tel.: +49 241 80-27362, Fax: +49 241 80-22293