Cryogenic Treatment of Cutting Tools

Cryogenic Treatment of Cutting Tools


Cryogenic treatment of cutting tools enhances the performance and extends the life of metal tooling that is used in drilling, milling, turning, facing, and other manufacturing and machining operations. This one-time, permanent process improves cutting tool durability and wear resistance while relieving stresses that contribute to metal fatigue. For manufacturers and machine shops, longer-lasting tooling that remains within specifications can improve productivity and quality while reducing downtime and rework. The purchases of new cutting tools can be delayed and more parts per tool can be produced.

How Cryogenic Treatment Works

Cryogenic treatment can be used with coated or uncoated tool steels. It produces microstructural changes in the grain of the metal, eliminating voids and imperfections caused by the heat treatment process. Although conventional heat treatment imparts hardness and toughness to tool steels, the metal still contains soft iron (austenite) and a non-uniform structure. Cryogenic treatment of cutting tools converts the remaining austenite into hard iron (martensite), which improves mechanical properties such as hardness and toughness along with tribological properties such as wear resistance and coefficient of friction.

Years ago, cutting tools were cryogenically treated by immersing them in liquid nitrogen. This subjected parts to thermal stock and could leave them in a brittle state. Today, cryogenic treatment of cutting tools is a precise, computer-controlled process that ensures stabilization. Parts such as cutting tools are placed in a chamber that is filled with gaseous nitrogen and the temperature is carefully lowered to -300°F. Nitrofreeze® uses ultra-slow ramp rates and stabilization stops as part of our proprietary cryogenic treatment profile. We also perform long holds at -300°F with a minimum 24-hour dwell at temperature.   

The Benefits of Cryo-Treatment

The benefits of cryogenic treatment of cutting tools are well-documented. According to a study that cites the International Journal of Modern Engineering Research, tool steel specimens that were cryo-treated had 80% better wear resistance than specimens that were untreated. Because cryogenic treatment also relieves stresses and improves durability, manufacturers and machine shops can expect longer cutting tool life. At Nitrofreeze®, customers normally see a 200% to 250% improvement. Longer life supports more parts per tool and reduces the amount of downtime needed for scheduled tooling changes.

Cutting tools that are cryogenically treated also improve productivity, promote quality, and support applications that require higher cutting speeds and feed rates. Broaches, drills, milling cutters, reamers, taps and other cutting tools that remain within specification produce better-quality parts that require less regrinding, reshaping, or rework. Cryo-treated cutting tools also have improved thermal conductivity, enabling them to better handle the higher heat associated with faster cutting operations for greater throughputs.

Choose Nitrofreeze® for the Cryogenic Treatment of Cutting Tools

Nitrofreeze® has cryogenically treated thousands of pieces of tooling for manufacturing companies. Examples include dies, punches, cutting blades, saw blades, molds, broaches, end mills, heat sinks, electrodes, and carbide cutting tools. We also offer custom cryogenic processes for a range of advanced applications for customers such as U.S. Government agencies, defense contractors, aerospace companies, and universities. For cryogenic treatment of cutting tools, Nitrofreeze® will provide you with a Statement of Compliance or, for a nominal fee, a Certificate of Compliance. 

Are you ready to discuss your cutting tool application, or do you have questions about the cryogenic treatment process? Contact Nitrofreeze® at the phone number and email listed below.

(508) 459-7447 x109 |