Cost-effective machining of hardened steel components has traditionally posed a significant challenge. This paper presents a viable hybrid machining approach for increasing the material removal rate and lowering tooling costs for machining of hardened steel parts. The approach consists of laser-induced tempering of the hardened workpiece surface followed by conventional machining at higher material removal rates to efficiently cut the laser-treated surface with ceramic tooling. Laser parameters for softening the hardened steel via tempering as well as cutting parameters that yield the largest reduction in cutting forces are identified through experiments on hardened AISI 52100 bearing steel. Results for the proposed hybrid process yield lower cutting forces and tool wear compared to the conventional hard turning process. In addition, unlike laser-assisted hard turning reported in the literature, the achievable material removal rates in the proposed approach are not limited by the laser power available. Published in the Proceedings of NAMRI/SME
, Vol. 39, 2011.