Machining Copper

Machining Copper

Hi Guys, any relevant advice will be appreciated. I'm machining 1.6mm thick copper plate with a 1.5mm carbide 2 flute slot mill. This copper sheet has been bonded with epoxy onto a round structure and held on a mandrel then driven on a rotary in a machining centre. After machining of this copper is completed the workpiece is again potted with epoxy, another copper layer applied and machined once again. 

This process is repeated until suffient layers have been completed and workpiece finished. Until now we have been using isopropanol blasted with air to remove swarf, keep the tool cool and lubricated. Unfortunately the isopropanol is extremely flammable so I need to find a suitable alternative. Traditional use of soluble oil is not suitable since this is a medical application an cannot become contaminated with bacteria and oily residue would not allow bonding of epoxy either.

I'm considering using a mixture of air with Argon yet the lubricity may not be sufficient to prevent cutter clogging, does anyone have experience with such an application?

Mark I.'s picture
Mark I.
MSC Metalworking Tech.

Machining with ARGON GAS may not be an effective option for copper in a MEDICAL product manufacturing process. Argon is a poor conductor of heat and has poor lubricity characteristics. These two factors will need to be considered along with the process advantage of it being used as a non-contaminating chip removal process.             

The Argon may concentrate the heat around the cutting zone which will wear the cutting edges more aggressively. And with low lubricity you may have excessive pressure welding of the chips in the cutting zone.

There is an application from ACP Systems in Germany that uses CO2snow in a machining process. Which has been developed for machining PEEK and aluminum. But it may also be applicable to your process of copper as it is also a non-ferrous material.

Below is link to their web site and an article from Today’s Medical Developments that may be advantageous for your application.


Many thanks Mark, I'll investigate your recommendation


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