Synthetic Diamonds for use in the Aerospace Industry

Synthetic Diamonds for use in the Aerospace Industry

Element Six materials are used in the cutting, milling, drilling and grinding of aerospace components.

Element Six designs, develops and manufactures supermaterials for use in precision cutting, milling, drilling and grinding applications in the production of aerospace components and systems. Element Six materials successfully meet the changing demands of the aerospace industry arising from the introduction of more difficult-to-machine materials including composites and high strength metals.

We work closely with our customers to optimise aerospace machining applications, helping them to exploit material solutions and create value for the end-user. Our supermaterials enable increased cutting speeds, improved operational productivity and extended tool lives – often orders of magnitude greater than conventional tooling materials.

Our drilling, milling and turning solutions for CFRP (carbon fibre reinforced polymers) and titanium
Synthetic diamond materials are either established, or rapidly gaining acceptance, in CFRP component manufacturing, edge-milling and drilling of components comprised of CFRP, often in combination with titanium. Conventional tooling materials rapidly wear in drilling CFRP and result in delamination between fibre layers. Single crystal synthetic diamond and PCD (polycrystalline diamond) drills and routers allow for considerably longer tool lives and are the favoured solution for all but the smallest components and production runs. Our PCD grades are also becoming increasingly used in turning and milling titanium, where they offer cutting speeds four times that of other cutting tool materials, and offer tool lives several times longer.

CFRP components are often joined to titanium components – so-called ‘stacks’ - but both materials can be extremely difficult-to-machine. However, PCD is not only the best solution for each material in isolation, it is also the only option for both materials in combination. Learn more about PCD. Learn more about single crystal synthetic diamond.

Our grinding solutions for aero-engine components
Element Six CBN (cubic boron nitride) materials are used in grinding turbine blade root profiles and generating precise clearance gaps in engine cowlings. Unlike conventional abrasives, CBN maintains hardness and sharp cutting edges over wide temperature ranges, making it suitable for machining ferrous materials. CBN abrasives are up to two orders of magnitude more abrasion resistant in comparison to the most common conventional abrasive alumina and hence maintain form-accuracy over much longer times. CBN grinding also offers immense efficiency gains in the grinding of hardened steels.  Learn more about CBN.

Our turning solutions for superalloys
Element Six PCBN (polycrystalline cubic boron nitride) materials are increasingly utilised in the semi-finishing of nickel-based superalloy discs and shafts. While coated and uncoated carbide tools are mostly used today for finishing nickel and cobalt based superalloys, these tools operate at speeds of 50 m/min. In comparison, PCBN reliably operates at speeds of 300 m/min or greater, offering longer tool lives and potentially improved surface integrity. The six-fold increase in productivity is extremely attractive to component producers, helping reduce machine tool investments and operating costs. Learn more about PCBN.

Our cutting solutions
Element Six tungsten carbide burr blanks are used for metal cutting and the removal of rough edges on aerospace components. Element Six tungsten carbide burr blanks offer high performance and a long service life, and we provide a complete range of Imperial and DIN standard burr blanks. Learn more about tungsten carbide products.

Our future solutions
As new generations of engines enter the market - providing opportunities for new tooling concepts to be qualified - PCBN will be used for semi- and final-stage finishing in next generation engines, offering four to eight-fold increased productivity rates over conventional materials.

For large titanium structural components, such as the wing boxes of the latest generation of long-haul, widebody aircraft, PCD milling tools are expected to replace cemented carbide, as they offer four-times higher productivity and multiples in tool lives. While PCD tools are initially more expensive, this is far outweighed by the subsequent savings in machine investment, depreciation and labour.