More than 100 million gallons of cutting fluid is used each year in the U.S. to protect wet machining tools. Dry machining is a more ecologically friendly alternative to wet machining, but a lack of available cutting tools that offer the necessary lubrication and desired hot hardness has limited its usage.
Industry-standard coatings for dry machining use a multi-layer configuration in which soft phases wear out early in the machining process, leaving the hard phases exposed. This configuration cannot provide efficient lubrication throughout the tool life, and therefore these tools wear out sooner.
NanoMech Inc. has now introduced a technology that offers a potential 500% efficiency improvement on the industry-standard multi-layer coatings for dry machining. Their 2013 R&D 100 Award-winning product, TuffTek, developed with the help of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the National Science Foundation and the Univ. of Arkansas, features a surface architecture capable of sustaining its own lubrication. Designed to mimic a lotus leaf, the coating features a textured surface that prevents water droplets from spreading, yet provides a nanoscale reservoir for a lubricant. Another biomimetic feature, self-sharpening edges inspired by sea urchin teeth, is made possible by the application of a layer of cubic boron nitride nanocrystals.