Coolant boiling and cavitation wear – a new tool wear mechanism on WC tools in machining alloy 718 with high-pressure coolant
Journal article, 2020

In recent years, research interest in liquid coolant media applied to the tool–workpiece interface (the tertiary shear zone) has grown considerably. In particular, attention has increased for work where the media has been applied under high-pressure. This is most likely triggered by the positive results reported on similar applications, but with coolant media directed towards the rake face of the cutting tool (the secondary shear zone). The most typical applications have not surprisingly been related to the machining of Heat Resistant Super Alloys (HRSA) or other “difficult to machine” alloys where the main intention has been to extend tool life and improve surface finish through reduced shear zone temperatures.

Concurrently, these achievements have revealed a knowledge gap and unlocked a new research area in understanding the effects and influences of coolant media applied on super-heated surfaces under high-pressure conditions. The aim of this study is to investigate the “coolant boiling and cavitation” phenomena that emerges during the application of coolant under high-pressure to the flank face of an uncoated WC tool while turning Alloy 718. The experimental campaign was conducted in three aspects: varying flank (coolant media) pressure; varying spiral cutting length (SCL); and varying cutting speed.

The results revealed that the location and size of the coolant-boiling region correlated with flank wear, coolant pressure and vapour pressure of the coolant at the investigated pressure levels. Further, the results showed that coolant applied with a lower pressure than the vapour pressure of the coolant itself caused the “Leidenfrost” effect. This then acts as a coolant media barrier and effectively reduces the heat transport from the cutting zone.

Further, erosion pits were observed on small areas of the cutting tool, resembling the typical signs of cavitation (usually found in much different applications such as pumps and propellers). The discovered wear mechanism denoted as “Cavitation Wear” was used as base for the discussion aimed to deepen the understanding of the conditions close to the sliding interface between the tool and the workpiece. Even though “Cavitation Wear” has been widely reported in hydraulic systems like pumps and water turbines, it is a new phenomenon to be seen on cutting tools while using high-pressure flank cooling.

Alloy 718

Cavitation wear

Coolant boiling

High-pressure coolant

Tungsten carbide

Tool wear mechanism


Nageswaran Tamil Alagan

University West

Philipp Hoier

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Materials and manufacture

Tomas Beno

University West

Uta Klement

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Materials and manufacture

Anders Wretland

GKN Aerospace Sweden


0043-1648 (ISSN)

Vol. 452-453 203284

Prosam, phase 1&2

Region Västra Götaland (RUN612-0208-16), 2016-01-01 -- 2017-12-31.

Region Västra Götaland (PROSAM), 2014-01-01 -- 2015-12-31.

Subject Categories


Manufacturing, Surface and Joining Technology

Areas of Advance




More information

Latest update

3/5/2021 3