Maximizing Tool Life with Helical’s Dplus Coating

Choosing the correct tool coating is extremely important when machining highly abrasive materials like composites, graphite, aluminum alloys, and other non-ferrous materials. Proper coating selection will result in maximized tool life and a higher quality final part. When searching for a coating, it is imperative to find one that has high hardness and maintains a sharp cutting edge, like Helical Solutions’ Dplus coating. This post will explore what Dplus coating is (and isn’t), and when it might help you gain a competitive edge at the spindle.

What is Helical Solutions’ Dplus Coating?

Helical’s Dplus is a premium coating, specially engineered to extend tool life when machining materials ranging from aerospace aluminums to graphite or abrasive composites. It has a Tetrahedral Amorphous Carbon (taC) bond structure, which delivers remarkable enhancements in tool life compared to traditional DLC coatings.

Helical’s Dplus coating is applied by a Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process. This method of coating takes place in a near-vacuum and distributes micron-thick layers evenly onto a properly prepared tool. Since this coating is applied via a PVD process, it is inherently different than true diamond created through Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) processes. While this means it can be outlasted by CVD diamond, Dplus is a thinner coating allowing it to have a sharper cutting edge.

For more information on the PVD coating process, read PVD Coating vs. CVD: Two Common Coating Application Methods.

When Should a Machinist Use Dplus Coating?

When Machining Highly Abrasive Materials

Dplus is an excellent choice when working in abrasive non-ferrous materials like graphite and high-silicon aluminums. It is an extremely hard coating (50 Gpa), which enables it to remain strong against abrasive materials. It also has a very low coefficient of friction, allowing for optimal lubricity. This reduces the risk of built-up edge and ensures chips can be easily evacuated out of the flute valleys.

In Production Runs

The combination of Dplus being an extremely hard and sharp coating, makes it a true winner when it comes to tool life. Using a Dplus coated tool in extended production runs can pay dividends at the spindle, especially when working in highly abrasive non-ferrous materials.  

Although Dplus takes the spot as Helical’s highest performing coating for non-ferrous materials, it may not be needed in certain applications. Its high hardness and abrasion resistance may be necessary for long production jobs, but may not be necessary for shorter jobs and one-off parts.

When Should a Machinist NOT Use Dplus Coating?

In High Temperature Applications

Although Dplus coating provides outstanding tool life and sharpness, it can’t be run at extremely high temperatures. This coating should not be run in any ferrous material or high temperature aerospace alloys.

Key Takeaways

Featuring an exceptionally low coefficient of friction and extremely high hardness, Helical’s Dplus coating maintains a sharp cutting edge, while still resisting abrasion, making it an excellent choice in low temperature applications of highly abrasive non-ferrous materials.

For more information on Helical Solutions’ coatings, visit

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