No cutting edge will last forever. Tools like end mills and drill bits have to deal with high operating temperatures as well as the abrasive force of the workpiece while operating. In order to get the best performance and longer tool life out of your tools, it is important to make sure that they were manufactured using high quality materials. Steel and carbide cutting tools are both popular opinions, but many users don’t know the specific qualities of these materials that make them food for machining.
One of the most popular materials used in the construction of end mills and drill bits is steel. There are many types of steel and different tool grade steels are used in the production of milling cutters. Steel’s main benefit is its strength, it is a strong material that can handle a lot of abuse. Sadly, like all metal tools, steel tools can only handle so much heat. Beyond a certain heat threshold, the tool will lose its temper and its edges will begin to soften. Many milling cutters are made from high speed steel alloys that are able to withstand higher temperatures than most other tool steels.
What is Carbide
The carbide found in tools is tungsten carbide. Tungsten carbide is stronger than steel and almost as hard as diamonds. Sadly it is also a ceramic material, making it far too brittle to produce tools. The tool material that we know as carbide is actually a suspension of powdered tungsten carbide that has been mixed with cobalt metal to produce a material with the strength of a metal and the heat resistance and edge retention of ceramics.
Carbide Pros and Cons
This unique composite material offers several advantages. Obviously because the cutting power of carbide cutting toolsis derived from the ceramic content, they can handle significantly more heat than metal tools. This makes carbide tools perfectly suited for high temperature applications like metal cutting. The strength and rigidity of carbide also makes it a great choice for minimizing tool vibration, especially in longer drill bits.
One side effect of cemented carbide’s structure is that it is more brittle than steel. Hard falls or impacts can damage carbide cutters. Despite this fact, a good carbide cutter should easily outlast any steel tool under similar conditions. That’s why investing in high quality solid carbide tools is always a good idea if you plan to do a lot of milling.
Luckily there are a wide range of manufacturers producing high performance solid carbide cutting tools. If you want to find tools from a great American manufacturer, you need to check out www.onlinecarbide.com. Online Carbide manufacturers all of their end mills and drill bits from high quality micro grain tungsten carbide tool stock. If you have any questions about the tools that they carry, or you are interested in having custom cutters produced for your shop, you can reach out to a member of their team by sending an email to [email protected]