Challenges in using waterjet machining of NiTi shape memory alloys: An analysis of controlled-depth milling

M. C. Kong, D. Axinte, W. Voice

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

92 Citations (Scopus)


The nickel-titanium shape memory alloys (NiTi SMAs) have a very high potential for a wide variety of applications thanks to their unique mechanical properties: shape memory effect and pseudoelasticity. However, they have been proved to be more challenging to cut than other advanced engineering materials because of their high ductility, crystal-oriented and stress-oriented mechanical properties. In stark contrast to the extensive work on the metallurgical/ microstructural properties of the SMA, there is limited research regarding non-conventional machining of this group of special alloys. Waterjet technology is well-known for cutting advanced difficult-to-cut materials owing to its benefits of reduced mechanical and thermal damages to workpiece surfaces. This paper reports for the first time the use of waterjet technology to mill the functional shape memory alloys and thus to open new avenues for the utilisation of these alloys for advanced engineering applications (e.g. aerospace, medical fields). However, when it comes to NiTi SMAs (characterised by low temperature phase martensite and parent phase austenite), the insignificant waterjet temperatures become critical to the material behaviour as their crystal structures are sensitive to the variations in both temperature and mechanical compression. This makes the processing (particularly waterjet controlled-depth milling) a real challenging task. By taking into consideration both of the waterjet temperatures at different material removal conditions (i.e. with and without abrasives in the focussing tube) and the transformation temperatures of NiTi, three different working zones (100% martensite; mix of austenite and martensite; 100% austenite) under waterjet process have been proposed. In addition, a combined phase and stress-strain diagram for shape memory effect in martensitic phase and pseudoelasticity in austenite phase of NiTi has been suggested. In this paper, Ni49.8Ti50.2 shape memory alloy was considered in which its transition temperature range is overlapped with the waterjet operating temperature; two approaches of waterjet processes (plain and abrasive waterjet milling) were proposed so as to investigate the mechanical and metallurgical effect provoked by the relationship between operating temperatures and transformation temperatures. It was found that abrasive waterjetting is more viable than plain waterjetting for controlled-depth milling of NiTi shape memory alloys.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-971
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Materials Processing Technology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Austenite
  • Martensite
  • Nitinol (NiTi)
  • Phase transformation
  • Shape memory alloy
  • Waterjet milling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ceramics and Composites
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Metals and Alloys
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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