by Anthony Williams on February 18, 2021
When it comes to machining components, aluminum is an incredible material to work with. It is light yet strong and easy to machine when compared to denser metals like steel. Even though aluminum is easier to machine, you do need to make sure that you are using the correct cutting tools when working with this material. If you need to find the best end mills for aluminum, then there are a few important factors to consider.
While aluminum is easy to machine because it is so soft, this advantage comes with its own set of issues. Consider a harder material like steel. When you cut steel, the metal breaks down into small chips. When you are machining aluminum, the chips that are created do not break easily. Instead the soft metal bends and creates long curved chips. These chips are heavy and difficult to eject from the base of your tool.
When working with steel, you want tools with many flutes in order to create more cuts per rotation, as the small chips will still be easy to evacuate. If you’re choosing the best end mills for aluminum, you need to think differently. Instead of more flutes, end mills for aluminum should only have two or three flutes. It may seem counterintuitive to use less flutes when cutting into metal, but there is a good reason. The wider spacing between cutting edges leads to easier chip evacuation.
Higher removal rates can be particularly valuable when machining at high speeds and feeds because it will prevent the aluminum alloy chips from building up around the base of the cutter. Another way to ensure chip evacuation is to use tools with a high helix angle. This angle helps to provide more upward force on the chips, which helps them easily clear the flutes. All of these different aspects of flute design can help protect your cutting tools and your aluminum workpieces from being damaged during the milling process.
In addition to flute design, different types of tool coatings can help to improve the evacuation of chips. One of the most popular coatings for aluminum cutters is zirconium nitride or ZrN. This coating provides a golden surface finish and helps to lower the coefficient of friction on the surface of the cutter, which helps to prevent the soft aluminum chips from sticking to the surface of your cutting tools.
If you are trying to find the best end mills for aluminum, there are some great options available at www.onlinecarbide.com. Their three flute end mills for aluminum feature a 37 degree helix angle and are coated with ZrN to help promote easy chip evacuation. The solid carbide construction also means that these tools will hold their edges and have a superior tool life compared to steel tools. If you have any questions about their tools, you can reach a member of the Online Carbide team by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.