When it comes to manufacturing materials, aluminum is a perfect option for many pieces. Aluminum alloys tend to offer an ideal balance between strength and weight, making them an obvious choice for many custom components. For machinists who want to work with aluminum, having the right tools is essential. When you have the right end mills for aluminum, you can get great results every time.
Milling machines are capable of operating at high speeds and when machining aluminum, speed is everything. Operating at low speeds and feeds can slow down production time and end up costing you money, especially when you have production quotas to meet. One of the best ways to speed up production times is to use tools that are designed to facilitate high metal removal rates.
When making cuts, end mills produce chips and fling them away from the workpiece. This process is known as chip evacuation and is part of what makes aluminum such a unique material. While hard materials like steel form extremely small chips, aluminum is known to form longer chips. This is due to the fact that aluminum is soft and flexible. Instead of snapping into small uniform chips, end mills for aluminum tend to cut long ribbons of aluminum in place of the usual small chips.
The size of these aluminum chips makes them particularly difficult to evacuate. If the chips are not thrown clear of the cutter, they can cause serious problems. Aluminum is soft enough to be continuously cut as it builds around the end mill. This can create finely powdered aluminum at the base of the tool which, when combined with the heat of high speed machining, can form a mass of aluminum that can jam your cutter. This process can seriously damage your tools and your workpiece.
In order to facilitate easy chip evacuation, end mills for aluminum are designed with widely spaced flutes. Typically these tools will only have two or three flutes instead of the high flute count seen in tools that are intended for cutting steel and other hard materials. This provides ample room for chips to clear the flutes and prevent jams. Most flute designs for aluminum cutting tools will also feature high helix angles. This will put more upward force on the chips and help keep the cutter clear of aluminum chips.
If you are trying to find the best end mills for aluminum, then it is worth looking into solid carbide end mills. These cutters have a superior tool life when compared to steel tools because their sharp cutting edges come from ceramic carbide. This material is extremely resistant to heat fatigue, which means that you can operate your carbide cutters at high speeds without risking their lifespan. You can find high performance carbide end mills designed specifically for working with aluminum when you visit www.onlinecarbide.com. All of their tools are manufactured in the US and are always available at manufacturer direct prices.