When it comes to getting the most out of your milling machines, using the right tools is essential. Production is all about speed and using the wrong tools can cost you valuable time and potential damage both your equipment and your workpiece. Speed is part of what makes aluminum such a popular material for production, as it is a soft but sturdy metal. If you are trying to machine aluminum properly then you need to know how to find the best end mills for aluminum.
As we just mentioned, aluminum is a softer metal. With that softness come some physical differences between aluminum and harder materials like steel and iron. One of the things that really sets aluminum apart is its flexibility. When steel is cut by a high speed end mill, the cut portion is rigid enough to bend and snap, forming small chips. With aluminum, the increased flexibility means that the chips can bend longer before finally breaking.
So what does this mean for machinists? Simply put, the big chips from aluminum can be hard to remove from the cutting area and they can build up and clog tools. In order to avoid complications caused by the larger chip size, the best end mills for aluminum are specially designed to maximize the ability of the tool to remove chips from the cutting area.
The first step in achieving this goal is to use end mills with low flute counts. Milling cutters that are designed for cutting steel typically have more flutes to spread out the cutting force across the tool. End mills for aluminum typically have 3 flutes, providing ample room between the cutting edges for chip evacuation.
In addition to having fewer flutes, the angles of these flutes are also different from other tools. A higher helix angle puts more upward force on chips and helps to clear them from the base of the cutter. Using a cutter with a helix angle above 35 degrees is recommended for machining aluminum.
Finally, you need to look at the material of your end mill. Steel tools are commonly used because they are affordable, but they can dull quickly. This is especially true for tools operating at high speeds. That is what makes carbide tools the superior option. Carbide tools are made up of a composite material of powdered ceramic cemented together with a binding metal like cobalt. Carbide maintains an edge for longer and is extremely strong and rigid. Many of the best end mills for aluminum will also feature a gold colored ZrN coating. This material lowers the end mill’s coefficient of friction, preventing aluminum chips from sticking and providing superior evacuation compared to uncoated tools.
If you are trying to find the best end mills for aluminum, then Online Carbide is a great manufacturer to check out. They offer a wide range of solid carbide end mills and drill bits at manufacturer direct prices. You can see all of their high quality, American made tools when you visit their website at www.onlinecarbide.com.