Aluminum alloy 6061(Al6061), an Al-Mg-Si alloy, is a precipitation-hardened alloy. The generation of precipitate affects its mechanical properties, and induces a worse surface finish during diamond cutting. The friction coefficients of the tool-chip and tool-workpiece interfaces influence temperature rise, and are therefore important predictors of tool wear and surface integrity during the diamond cutting of Al6061. This study investigated the relationship between precipitate generation and the friction coefficients of Al6061. Groups of experiments were conducted to study the influence of temperature and heating time on the number of precipitates and the friction coefficients. The results show that the generation of AlFeSi particles induces cracks, scratch marks and pits on diamond-machined Al6061 and affects the cutting forces. Moreover, the variation trend of the friction coefficient of Al6061 under different heating conditions agrees well with that of the number of AlFeSi particles. This implies that, during ultra-precision machining of precipitation-hardened alloys, cutting-induced heat causes precipitates to form on the chips and machined surface, changing their material properties. This affects the tool-workpiece and tool–chip contact conditions and the mechanisms of chip formation and surface generation in ultra-precision machining.
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