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Study of the performance of the turning and drilling of austenitic stainless

steels using two coolant techniques

Article  in  International Journal of Machining and Machinability of Materials · March 2008

DOI: 10.1504/IJMMM.2008.017621


16 249

4 authors, including:

Luis Norberto López de Lacalle Aitzol Lamikiz

Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea Universidad del País Vasco / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea


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Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

High Performance Drilling of Austenitic

Stainless Steels
Asier Gandarias1, Luis N. López de Lacalle 2, Xabier Aizpitarte1, Aitzol Lamikiz2
Ideko Koop.E., Elgoibar, Spain
University of the Basque Country, ESI Bilbao, Spain

1. Introduction
Stainless Steels are Fe-C alloys with more than 11% of Cr. Within this family,
austenitic alloys are the most resistant to corrosion. Among the austenitic steels, the
AISI 304 grade (EN1.4307) is very used for its low corrosion and high mechanical
properties (ultimate tensile strength is approximately 590 MPa). This alloy contains
18% Cr and 8% Ni, with maximum carbon composition of 0.08%. It is used in
chemical equipment, cooking equipment, cryogenic vessels, evaporators, feedwater
tubing, food processing equipment, hospital surgical equipment, hypodermic
needles, kitchen sinks, marine equipment, pressure vessels, valves, and shipping
Other important grade is the 316 (EN 1.4404), which includes Mo. Molybdenum
content increases resistance to marine environments, with better corrosion
resistance than 304. The 303 (EN 1.4305) series contains S and Mn to improve the
machinability of the alloy, being this steel included in the group known as free -
machining stainless steels. These elements (S and Mn) lead to the formation of a
protective layer of MnS on the tool rake face (Akasawa et al., 2003) (O’Sullivan &
Cotterell, 2002), where the new formed chip slips out of the edge, see Figure 1.
However, the sulphur addition lowers its corrosion resistance below that of Grade
S Mn 34.39 %
Ti 21.69 %
S 16.24 %
O 10.97 %
Cr 6.35 %
Ti Ca 3.20 %
Mn Fe 2.82 %
O Si 2.72 %
Ti Si Al, Ni, N, Cu
Ca Mn
N Al Ti Cr Fe
C Mg Ti Ca Fe Ni Ni

Fig. 1: Adhered layer of MnS on the tool rake surface, and the EDAX analysis
showing Mn and S.
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

Common cutting speeds in turning 304 and 316 range from 10 to 25 m/min with
HSS tools, and achieving up to 140 m/min with coated hard metal tools; while
feeds vary from 0.1 to 0.2 mm/rev. In drilling, when HSS twist drills are used
cutting speeds are from 10 to 20 m/min in 304, and from 10 to 18 m/min in 316;
feeds vary from 0.01 to 0.1 mm. When carbide tools are used speeds from 40 to 60
m/min and feeds from 0.02 to 0.15 mm/rev can be applied.
In 303 cutting speeds are higher. Thus in turning, when HSS tools are used speeds
range from 40 to 50 m/min, and feeds from 0.17 to 0.23; in the case of hard metal
tools cutting speeds exceed 250 m/min. In drilling, with HSS drill bits speeds can
be from 21 to 30 m/min and feeds up to 0.18, and when hard metal tools are used
speeds can vary from 40 to 110 m/min.
Hard metal tools with different coatings achieved low wear rates for austenitic
steels (Endrino et al., 2005). In this study, the nano-crystalline AlTiN outperformed
the fine grained AlTiN, while the texture of the AlCrN-based coatings had direct
influence on the tool performance.
Different outputs of the machining operations must be studied for machinability
consideration (Ciftci, 2006)(Tekiner & Yesilyurt, 2004):
- Tool wear, usually the flank wear measured on the clearance face of the tool,
and the notch wear on the depth of cut line in the same tool face. This aspect is
studied through long turning tests following the ISO 3685 (Tool life testing in
turning) standard.
- Roughness of the machined surfaces.
- Final dimensions of the machined parts.

2.1 Minimum quantity of lubricant

In the last five years some investigations have been carried out to eliminate or
reduce the use of coolants (oils or emulsions) in machining. There are obvious
economic reasons (Thamke et al., 1998) to reduce the costs of the life cycle of
cutting fluids (filtration, purification and elimination of residues) with a direct
repercussion in manufacture costs. Furthermore, there are environmental
motivations since the avoidance of lubricants results in lower pollution (Klocke et
al., 2001). Moreover, in the industrialized countries strict laws related to the use of
cutting fluids are being developed, such as the TRGS (Technical Code of Practice
for Hazardous Substances) in Germany or the Decree 259/1998 of 29th of
September in Spain.
Therefore, dry machining would be highly desirable (Kalhöfer, 1998).
Unfortunately, this is something non-viable in light alloys or high ductility
materials, because of the trend of these materials to be adhered to the tool edges.
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

This phenomenon is known as BUL (Built Up Layer) and it highly decreases tool
life (Crauwels et al., 1998). Considering the impossibility of dry machining on
some alloys, a technique of minimal consumption of cutting oils called MQL
(Minimum Quantity of Lubricant) is being used. This technique consists on the
injection of a high-speed air jet with suspensioned micro-drops of biodegradable
oil. Previous studies (Thamke et al., 1998) (López de Lacalle et al., 2001)
explained the advantages of this spray system with respect to conventional
emulsion coolant (Wakabayashi et al., 1998).
The flow of air with oil drops acts in three different ways:
- It removes the heat generated in the cutting by convection of the injected air and
by partial evaporation of the oil.
- It decreases friction between the chip and the rake face of the tool, since the oil
drops are small enough (usually smaller than 2 µm) to get into the chip-tool
- It evacuates chips from the working area helped by the pressurized air. This
aspect is very important when drilling holes with more than three times diameter
in length.

2.2 Simulation of the machining process

The first research step was the machining simulation of the grades 304 and 316,
using for it the standard simulation software Thirdwave Advantedge™. This wide-
spread analysis tool includes the constitutive laws for both materials in its inner
database. However, 303 could not be simulated because its machinability depends
on the addition of MnS; its positive effect in the formation of a protective layer on
the rake face is not a factor depending on the constitutive law of material. The
objective of the simulation was to know the order of magnitude of temperatures on
the tool/material interface, and the value of cutting forces.
Regarding to temperatures, Figure 2 shows temperature values along the rake face
for different cutting speeds. Maximum values exceed 800ºC for 400 m/min, and are
similar for both stainless steel grades. The higher the cutting speed, the higher the
temperature. Above 750ºC, uncoated hard metal tools start to degrade due to the
cobalt binder softening.
The results regarding to cutting forces are plotted in figure 3. According to the
obtained results, Specific Cutting Force values range from 1900 to 2300 N/mm2.
Usual values are approximately 2400 N/mm2 for stainless steels. The simulated
cutting forces for 316 were slightly lower than those for 304 (a 10%).
Based on the simulation, the only practical solution for a productive machining of
both grades would be the use of hard metal tools with high positive cutting edges,
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

coated with a layer resistant up to 900ºC. There are no big chances of process
improvement by changing the cutting conditions.

Fig.2. Temperature along the rake face for different cutting speeds vc (80, 200, 300
and 400 m/min) and feed f 0.13 mm/rev.

The last version of Thirdwave™ allows the introduction of different convention

cooling rates in finite element simulations, but only a variation of few temperature
degrees is achieved. In our opinion the effect of coolant in turning is highly
complex (and more even in drilling), and machining simulation is actually far from
the real process.
350 300

300 250
Fx Fx
Fza (N)

Fza (N)


150 Fy


50 50

0 0
80 1 1502 3
200 4
300 5
400 1 2 3 4 5
80 150 200 300 400
Vc (m/min) Vc (m/min)

Fig.3.- Cutting forces at different cutting speeds, depth of cut a 1mm, f 0.13
mm/rev. Left) AISI 304. Right) AISI 316.
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

2.3 Cryogenic treatment

In the work here presented some tested workpieces have undergone a new
cryogenic treatment (applied by Cryobest™ Int.) before turning or drilling. During
this treatment materials are submitted to deep cryogenic temperatures near -180ºC,
affecting the whole mass of the part. A conventional cryogenic treatment typically
lasts two to three days. It is important to make a distinction between deep cryogenic
treatments and subzero (sallow cryogenic) treatments, made at temperatures of
around -80ºC and sometimes used on certain steel parts after quenching for
dimensional stabilisation.
The process can be used to improve the wear and toughness properties of a wide
range of materials. Steels (including stainless ones), aluminium, copper, carbide,
ceramics and even some polymers can be improved with this treatment.
Therefore it is interesting to study the effect of this treatment on the machinability
of parts, since it is being applied to stainless steels for pipelines or other high-added
value applications.

3. Turning results
Two types of inserts have been used in the long life tests:
- TNMA 160408 triangular, grade KC 850, coated by three layers TiN, TiCN,
TiC (from external to internal layer). This insert has no chipbraker. Main
position angle is κ 90º.
- CNMG 120408 rhomb 80º, grade GC 4025, coated by TiN, Al2O3, and
TiCN. This insert presents chipbraker with an active clearance angle of 10º.
Position angle is κ 95º.

Fig.4. Turning inserts: TNMA 160408 and CNMG 120408.

In Figure 5 results on 303, 304 and 316 for dry conditions are shown. Best results
were for the second insert type, due to the high clearance angle of this insert placed
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

on the toolholder. As shown, 303 stainless steel presents a real improvement on

machinability, with a flank wear lower than 0.2 mm when more than 1400 cm3 are
3.1 Influence of the coolant
Regarding to the use of coolants, for 304 and 316 better results in tool wear and
piece roughness are achieved when external coolant (emulsion 3% oil in water) is
used. The main reason for this is the high temperature on the rake face when no
coolant is used (see section 2.2).
With 303 the test was stop when 1500 cm3 of material was removed, being tool
wear much reduced. In all the cases workpiece roughness and dimensions were
better when coolant was applied, due to the low adhesion of material on the tool
rake face.
flank wear VBB



flank wear VBB


AISI 316
AISI 304

0 AISI 303

0 200 400 600 800 1000 cm3 1400

machined volume Vw

Fig.5. Turning tests in 304, 316 and 303, vc 300 m/min, f 0.13 mm, a 1 mm, dry
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

≈ ≈
machined volume VW



AISI 316
300 AISI 304
AISI 303
dry emulsion

mean roughness Ra

316 emulsion
316 dry
4 304 emulsion
304 dry
303 emulsion

0 303 dry
0 500 cm3 1500
machined volume Vw

Fig.6. Turning tests in 304, 316 and 303, with insert CNMG, vc 300 m/min, f 0.13
mm, a 1mm, and different coolant conditions.

Some turning tests were carried out with MQL, but no improved results with
respect to dry tests were achieved. This lubrication-cooling technique did not
significantly affect the tool wear, but it produced a slightly better surface
roughness. These results are similar to those reported by Bruni (Bruni et al., 2006).

3.2 Influence of previous cryogenic treatment (CB) of the stainless steel bars
Some of the tests bars were treated by cryogenic treatment (-173º). Tool wear
development was approximately the same for treated and no treated specimens, but
better results in roughness and dimensional tolerances were found for those
cryogenically treated (see Figure 7, marked as CB), perhaps for the lower adhesion
of steel onto the tool. Aspects of secondary flank and notch wear are gathered in
Table 1.
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

machined volume VW




100 AISI 316

AISI 304
with CB without CB

mean roughness Ra


AISI 304

0 AISI 304 CB
0 100 200 300 cm3 500
machined volume Vw

Fig.7. Results on 304 and 316 with and without the cryogenic treatment, turning
conditions were: insert TNMA, vc 300 m/min, f 0.13 mm, a 1 mm, dry conditions.
AISI 316 AISI 316 CB

Flank wear of the

secondary edge

Notch wear

Table 1. Tool wear after turning of cryogenically treated and not treated AISI 316.
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

3.3 Influence of the workpiece length

Special care was taken into account when long pieces were turned with tailstock,
due to the appearance of vibrations when the central sections were turned. This led
to the appearance of marks on the workpiece surface and to a high tool wear. The
slender parameter for a bar supported in both extremes is L3/D4. According to our
tests this parameter must be kept lower than 30 mm-1 to avoid vibrations.

3.4 Turning conclusions

The most important conclusions from the turning experimental tests are:
- 303 steel is clearly the easier to be machined, while 304 and 316 show
similar results and could be considered as difficult-to-be machined.
- Coolant improved both the tool life and part quality. MQL has no big
advantage with respect to dry turning.
- Cryogenic treatment has a fine influence on workpiece quality, that is, on
roughness and part dimension.

4. Drilling optimisation
After the turning experiments, efforts were focused on the drilling operation,
studied by previous authors (Lin & Shyu,. 2000) (Routio & Saynatjoki, 1995). The
main objective was the best selection of cutting speeds and feeds for internal
coolant with high pressure (60 bars). A secondary drive was considering the
feasibility of MQL through spindle.
4.1 Coolant techniques
Two different types of coolant technologies have been used and tested: the high
pressure trough the machine spindle and the MQL through the spindle as well. In
both cases drills with internal coolant channels were used. The channels ended on
the clearance faces.

Fig.8. High pressure coolant (60 bars) through the machine spindle and the drill bit.
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

High pressure up to 60 bars was applied, using emulsion coolant (3-5% oil in
water). This technique tries to make a better use of coolant than external flooding,
achieving a large number of holes with the same drill bit and with the same oil
consumption, and therefore with the same cost of lubricants.
Looking forward to future applications, perhaps the number of holes achieved with
MQL technique might be lower but in any case, the consumption of biodegradable
oil is significantly reduced. These coolant techniques should be then evaluated
taking into account the global economic constrictions of the process for each
company and application.
There were also some experiments using dry conditions and supplying cold air (-
15º) obtained from a Vortex nozzle (by Exair™). Unfortunately there was no
improvement with respect to dry cutting. In Figure 9 the feed force and torque
along drilling for high pressure and dry conditions are shown. There is also a
picture of the drill bit after only two holes; showing chisel and primary edges
absolutely destroyed, and feed force and torque continuously increasing up till the
tool breakage.

6 thermally
N•m affected area chip adhesion
on hole´s wall
torque M



feed force Fz

800 burr formation chip-flute blockage

400 high pressure chip accumulate along the flute,

(60 bar) increasing friction, torque and temperature.
dry torque increase supposed tool breakage,
0 while friction and temperature increase become
0 1 seg 3 to a surface and geometry tolerance deterioration.
cutting time tc

Fig.9. Left) Feed force and drilling torque for high pressure and dry conditions.
Right) Aspect of the drill bit after two holes.
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

5. Experimental drilling results

Three types of drills ∅6.8 mm were used in the experimental approach, shown in
Figure 10:
- Type 1, hard metal grade K20 with 10% Co, 140º point angle, coated by
Futura™ Nano (TiAlN , 3300 HV).
- Type 2, point angle 140º, hard metal K20 with 10% Co, coated by a
combined TiN–TiAlN with an external MoS2 layer. Cutting edge is more
curved than the previous design.
- Type 3, the same as the previous case, but with cryogenic treatment (applied
by CryoBest™).
Cutting conditions were f 0.13 mm and vc 40 or 80 m/min. Hole length was in all
the cases 3•∅, l: 21 mm.


Type 1
Type 2-3

Fig.10. General overview of tool geometry of the tested drill bits.

5.1 Results of high pressure for different types of drills

In Figure 12 the performance of the three drill bits tested to vc 40 m/min in AISI
304 are gathered. The total hole length (each hole is 21 mm), mean roughness, and
entrance and bottom hole diameters are shown. The tool life criterion was the tool
The first type of drill let more than 1600 holes, with good roughness (Ra 1µm) and
hole dimension (diameter errors lower than 40 µm). All results are sound, when
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

tool edges keep their features along holes production all the quality parameters are
also fine.
Types 2 and 3 presented poor results comparing to Type 1, probably due to their
weak edges at the maximum tool diameter. In this case the cryogenic treatment
seems to increase the tool performance. However there is a lack of information
about the principles of what, how and why it happens. No other observation or
evidence of the tool improvement has been found using SEM microscopy. Further
experimentation and more evidences are needed.
5.2 Influence of the cutting speed
Cutting speeds of 40 and 80 m/min have been tested. Results for both speeds were
somehow similar in relation to tool wear and hole roughness and dimension (see
Figure 11). Results were similar for 304 and 316.
Supported by the experimental data, 80 m/min cutting speed could be proposed for
mass production yielding good productivity while preserving moderate tool wear.

20 nº of drilled holes
120 250
roughness Rz


diameter at the bottom Df

vc 40 m/min
vc 80 m/min


0 2 4 m 8
cutting length c

Fig.11. Performance of the Type 2 drills in 304, at vc 40-80 m/min and f 0.13 mm,
coaxial internal coolant at 60 bars pressure.
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

40 7.00

entrance hole De
cutting length lc

m mm

20 6.90

10 6.85

0 6.80
Type 1 Type 2 Type 3

4 7.00
mean roughness Ra

µm mm

exit hole Df
2 6.90

1 6.85

0 6.80
0 10 20 m 40 0 10 20 m 40
cutting length lc cutting length lc

nº of drilled holes
new 40 400 840 980 1600
Type 1
Type 2
Type 3

Fig. 11: Performance of the three tested drills to vc 40 m/min and f 0.13 mm, in
AISI 304, with coaxial internal coolant at 60 bars pressure.
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

For both materials (304 and 316), the tool coated layer avoids the adhesion of
stainless steel on the clearance and rake faces, with smoothly wear pattern. Tool
degradation came from edge chipping close to the chisel edge. In this area effective
cutting speed is low. Sticking of the drill primary edges into material instead
cutting is produced. Chip results of a plastic deformation instead of a chip removal
process. In Figure 13 the evolution of this tool wear mechanism is shown. This
wear could be reduced changing the geometry of the tool point, including a
rounded edge close to the chisel edge. Other possibility would be to increase the
cutting speed, which would eliminate the sticking, but more edge wear at the
maximum diameter would appear.

Fig.13. Type 1 drill bit, after 1045, 1650 and 1820 holes, showing edge chipping
close to the chisel edge.

5.3 MQL results

Stainless steels are difficult-to-be drilled without high pressure because of their
high ductility. Coolant must blow out new chips from drilled holes, sliding the
chips on the rake faces of the tool flutes. A priori, the use of internal MQL requires
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

a reduction in both cutting speeds and feeds. The tests with MQL were carried out
at 40 m/min and feed 0.05 mm. The maximum number of holes was hoped lower
than 500. Three types of drilling procedures were studied:
- Conventional: drilling and exiting from the workpiece at the same feed and
spindle rotation.
- Deep Hole Strategy: drilling at the same cutting speed and feed as above, but
exiting at a reduced rotational speed and at a higher feed. In this way lower
friction of the drill inside the holes is achieved and consequently low heating
is originated.
- Pecking or in&out Strategy: Cutting parameters are kept constant, but
drilling is done in steps. After each step the drill leaves the hole and
successively retrieves its position again, till the total length is drilled.
All three strategies presented bad results in comparison to the high pressure
experiments with AISI 304. The number of drilled holes never exceeded the 200.
The surface/geometric characteristics were poor. The “best” results were for
pecking, followed by conventional and deep hole strategies respectively.
Drilling with MQL is rather difficult because the ductility of materials severely
complicates the sliding of the continuous chips on the drill flutes. In Figure 14 there
are two pictures of the process corresponding to the long and continuous chip

Fig.14. Problem of chip removal in MQL tests.

The high-pressure system improves not only the cooling rate and transportation but
also the chip breakage. The MQL does not break chips. Figure 15 compares the
chip size/form for both lubricating systems and shows the outcome of drilling with
MQL after the tests.
High performance drilling of austenitic stainless steels

MQL chip

High-Pressure chip

Fig.15. Chips in high pressure and MQL tests.

The more the drilling, the higher chip accumulation on the tool. Chips can not be
properly evacuated from the work area, provoking drill to break, mainly due to the
higher torque.
Results in the case of 316 were similar to those presented for the 304, while the 303
allowed a higher number of drilled holes. Here, the turning results concerning the
influence of material groups corresponded to those in drilling, obtaining more than
300 machined holes.
6. Discussion of results and further work
Previous to the drilling study, the conducted turning tests have given relevant
information about the behaviour of these alloys when machined. Briefly, a) the rake
face temperature reaches more than 800º, b) 304 and 316 present similar
machinability indexes, and c) the cryogenic treatment seems to improve the quality
parameters: roughness and dimensional precision.
Drilling on stainless steels can rend high productivity when high pressure emulsion
coolant is injected through the spindle and drill bit. Our experiments on 304 and
316 proved operations exceeding 1600 holes.
Unfortunately, the main conclusion from experimental tests foresees a very low
number of holes produced when using MQL. Comparing the results to those
obtained under high pressure machining conditions, it is evident that high pressure
is far more effective, regardless of the high cost of lubricants and supplier
Delving into the origin of the poor results with MQL, the main appointed reason is
the injection of the air+oil supply in a very inefficient point of the drill bit: the
clearance face of the primary edge. In this face there is not sliding of new chips on
the tool. It only happens on the rake face where there is no coolant exit. Thus MQL
has not a big effect in cutting, only some benefit coming from the general injection
Gandarias, A., López de Lacalle, L.N., Aizpitarte X., Lamikiz, A.

of air and its global cooling effect. In order to take advantage of the MQL
technique, coolant must be provided on the drill rake faces. For this purpose a new
tool with coolant channels exiting to the rake faces must be experimented. General
purpose drills present internal channels with the same channel exit, which is forced
by the primary extrusion of the hard metal bars when fabricating. The internal holes
are helicoidally placed and they would require special tool grinding to make them
New experimentation will be in the near future carried out with special designed
drills with channels to the rake faces, making them by shrinking electrodischarge
machining. This could be the key to be able to drill stainless steels with MQL

7. Acknowledgments
Thanks are addressed to the Basque companies Latz, S.Coop., Cryobest Intl.,
Balzers-Elay, and FMD SAL. Financial support from the Department of Industry of
the Basque Country Government was received, in the research project T-iNOx.
Thanks are also addressed to marGUNE research group.

8. References
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the workpart surface finish and tool wear in finish turning of AISI 420,
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