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   Machining Cast Iron with PCBN
    
    PCBN can provide a cost effective and highly productive alternative to hard metal or ceramic cutting tools
    for the machining of cast irons.
 
    In general terms, the following factors should be considered when applying PCBN to an ironcomponent. Cast iron is not     generally very hard (less than HRc.30) but tends to be abrasive. PCBN is therefore employed because of its abrasive
    resistance. Unless the iron has been chilled or deliberately heat treated, the cutting action will be such that the PCBN
    will not be required to anneal  the material being cut in the shear zone. Grey cast irons are often fully pearlitic in
    structure - Grade 14 & 17 are common.
 
    In this case, the best results are gained using DR - 100/85 at surface speeds above 400 m/min. if the machine tool or     component limit the speed available to less than 400 m/min, DR - 50 becomes more cost effective. Tool life and
    component quality improvements are often dramatic and more than justify the increased cost of the PCBN tools. if
    the grey cast iron is not fully pearlitic and more free ferrite is present within the structure, the machinability of the iron     becomes more difficult to predict. As the level of “soft and sticky” ferrite increases, the tool is more likely to suffer
    adhesion pick up which will alter the cutting action, resulting in premature wear of the tool.
    
    DR-50 becomes more likely to provide good results as the level of free ferrite increases and a short trial will
    soon determine the most suitable PCBN material.
 
    Fully ferritic grey cast irons are not generally cost effective PCBN applications. S.G. irons are usually soft (less
    than HRc.30) and fully ferritic. PCBN is therefore not often as efficient as other cutting tooltool materials.
 
    There has, however, been a tendency to produce S.G. irons (nodular irons) with a pearlitic structure.This has
    resulted in some nominally S.G. irons machining surprisingly well with PCBN, DR-50 tending to be more successful.
 
    Low alloy irons commonly used in the automotive industry can be machined with PCBN, but the performance is     again dependant on the level of free ferrite in the structure.
    
    Hardened irons, either heat treated or alloyed and heat treated, are machined in the same manner as hardened steels
    and are therefore more predictable. Cutting speeds recommended are lower - less than 200 m/min.
    
    It must be remembered that cast iron of a given specification produced by a foundry on one day may have a different     machinabilty to that produced the next day.

 

 

 

    Once the benefits of machining with PCBN have been determined,
    it may be considered worthwhile ensuring that castings supplied
    to the machine shop have a suitable microstructure to guarantee     consistent PCBN tool performance.
 
    If the structure or grade of cast iron is unknown, a simple trial
    will soon determine the suitability of PCBN as a cutting tool.

 

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