How to Machine Shapal M
Shapal M can be machined into high-precision components, but the process requires care and expertise.
Shapal M, a technical ceramic that is chemically the compound aluminium nitride, has a special crystalline structure that enables its precision machining. The micro-structure makes the compound both hard and strong.
The machining tool creates micro-fractures within any material being worked. Shapal M has the advantage that these micro-fractures are prevented from propagating throughout the material by the crystalline structure. This makes it easy to work on in a controlled manner.
As it is being machined, the crystals in the material are pulverised at the tool tip, and a smooth surface finish is produced as a result. After cleaning, the resulting component doesn’t need subsequent treatment such as firing. However, it is important that alkalis and acids are not used for cleaning
Shapal M has to be machined using carbide tools. High-speed tools made of steel are not appropriate and neither are ceramic-tipped tools. These tools have to be checked regularly during machining and kept very sharp. A blunt tool will emit a squeak during machining. Another sign is that it needs more force to be applied. At this point, the process has to be interrupted so that the tool is sharpened.
Standard machining practice recommends that it is easier to machine at a low speed and keep the work material reasonably cool. This will produce a shallower cutting depth, but this is the best advice until the operator becomes more confident and expert at cutting. The machining should start from the edge of the work piece and be worked towards the centre.
This is a high-temperature material that is used in many challenging environments. But to obtain the best results with machining, it is advisable that the work piece and the tool are kept as cool as possible. The cutting action can be improved with a water-soluble fluid. It will trap and then wash away any powder created during the machining and will also protect the cutting tool.
Maintenance is also an important matter during machining. The powder that is generated can be very abrasive and can damage both the tools and the work piece of the cutting fluid is being recirculated. So it is important to keep all of the tools and working surfaces thoroughly clean and use the coolant/cutting fluid as generously as possible.
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