Ductile cutting are most widely used in fabricating high-quality optical glass components to achieve crack-free surfaces. For ultra-precision machining of brittle glass materials, critical undeformed chip thickness (CUCT) commonly plays a pivotal role in determining the transition point from ductile cutting to brittle cutting. In this research, cutting characteristics in nanometric cutting of BK7 and fused silica glasses, including machined surface morphology, surface roughness, cutting force and specific cutting energy, were investigated with nanometric plunge-cutting experiments. The same cutting speed of 300 mm/min was used in the experiments with single-crystal diamond tool. CUCT was determined according to the mentioned cutting characteristics. The results revealed that 320 nm was found as the CUCT in BK7 cutting and 50 nm was determined as the size effect of undeformed chip thickness. A high-quality machined surface could be obtained with the undeformed chip thickness between 50 and 320 nm at ductile cutting stage. Moreover, no CUCT was identified in fused silica cutting with the current cutting conditions, and brittle-fracture mechanism was confirmed as the predominant chip-separation mode throughout the nanometric cutting operation.
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