Posted by: 27. September 2011

Approved: Cryogenic Machining for the F-35 Fighter

Lockheed Martin recently announced it has won government approval to use cryogenic machining of titanium in the production of the F-35 Lighting II stealth fighter. The company says cryogenic machining improves tool life in titanium by a factor of 10 when used at cutting speeds appropriate for this material.
The announcement is an important step for machine tool builder Mag, a company that has worked to develop, test and refine low-flow cryogenic fluid delivery. This technology extends tool life by transforming the cutting tool itself into a heat sink.
At the recent imX event in Las Vegas, I spoke with Mag chief technical officer Doug Watts about the advance of this method of cryogenic machining. The technology is proven, he said, and it is available on various Mag machines. However, that’s not automatically enough to win acceptance. Many interested users are waiting to see major manufacturers give their approval—and he expects that approval to come. The Lockheed Martin announcement is an example. Mr. Watts knows of other big-name manufacturers that are likely to share their own favorable views of the technology.

At EMO, Mag’s demonstrations of cryogenic machining were an attention-grabbing element of the show. Mark Albert talked about this in an interview from Germany with IMTSTV. To watch that interview, click here and choose “Day 5.” 

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