Experimental and numerical investigation of laser assisted milling of silicon nitride ceramics



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Kansas State University


This study experimentally and numerically investigates laser assisted milling (LAMill) of silicon nitride ceramics. Experiments are conducted to study the machinability of Si3N4 under LAMill. The effects of temperature on cutting forces, tool wear, surface integrity, edge chipping and material removal mechanisms are investigated. It is shown that when temperature increases, cutting force and tool wear are significantly decreased, surface integrity is improved, chip size is increased and material removal demonstrates more plastic characteristics. The mechanisms of edge chipping at elevated temperature are investigated theoretically and experimentally. When temperature is above the softening point and below the brittle/ductile transition temperature, the mechanism is mainly through softening. When temperature is above the brittle/ductile transition temperature, toughening mechanism contributes significantly to the reduced edge chipping. The coupled effect of softening and toughening mechanisms shows that temperature range between 1200 to 1400°C has the most significant effect to reduce edge chipping.
Distinct element method (DEM) is applied to simulate the micro-mechanical behavior of Si3N4. First, quantitative relationships between particle level parameters and macro-properties of the bonded particle specimens are obtained, which builds a foundation for simulation of Si3N4. Then, extensive DEM simulations are conducted to model the material removal of machining Si3N4. The simulation results demonstrate that DEM can reproduce the conceptual material removal model summarized from experimental observations, including the initiation and propagation of cracks, chip formation process and material removal mechanisms. It is shown that material removal is mainly realized by propagation of lateral cracks in machining of silicon nitride. At the elevated temperature under laser assisted machining, lateral cracks are easier to propagate to form larger machined chips, there are fewer and smaller median cracks therefore less surface/subsurface damage, and crushing-type material removal is reduced. The material removal at elevated temperature demonstrates more plastic characteristics. The numerical results agree very well with experimental observations. It shows that DEM is a promising method to model the micro-mechanical process of machining Si3N4.



Laser assisted milling, Silicon nitide ceramics, Edge chipping, Distinct element method, Particle flow code, Material removal pocess

Graduation Month



Doctor of Philosophy


Department of Industrial & Manufacturing Systems Engineering

Major Professor

Shuting Lei