Milling aluminum can be tricky, especially if it is not a material that you have worked with before. If you need to machine aluminum parts, it is worth taking some time to make sure that you have the best end mills for aluminum. Trying to use the same tools as you would with other metals like steel could damage your cutters and your workpiece. With the right tools, the process of machining aluminum can be quick and easy.
To understand machining aluminum, you first need to understand what makes aluminum so special. This metal is light and significantly softer than steel alloys. Because aluminum is so soft, it can be machined at incredibly high speeds, making fast production far easier. Having the right tools for the job will help ensure that you can reach the speeds you need to streamline your production times. This means finding tools that are designed to overcome a few of aluminums unique characteristics.
One of the biggest issues when machining aluminum is chip production. Because aluminum is so soft and malleable, it can be difficult to properly evacuate chips. Due to the softness of aluminum, long thick chips can be produced by softer alloys while more rigid aluminum alloys might create long stringy chips. Either way, improper chip evacuation can lead to these chips getting caught around the cutting edges of your end mill, eventually compressing and jamming your end mill.
End Mill Design
Creating the best end mills for aluminum involves making a tool that is designed for speed and chip evacuation. These tools typically undergo less strain than end mills designed to cut steel, meaning that two and three flute end mills are common for machining aluminum. The larger flute spacing helps to provide more room for chip evacuation.
In addition to having fewer flutes than other end mills, end mills made for aluminum also tend to have a steeper flute angle compared to other cutting tools. This high helix design will help to exert more upward force on the chips, moving them away from the base of the cutter so they are less likely to build up during the machining process.
End Mill Materials
Finally you need to consider what you end mills are constructed from. High speed steel alloys are a popular option, but they can still suffer from heat fatigue after long jobs. Solid carbide end mills are one of the best options for milling cutters because they are far less susceptible to the effects of high temperatures. Carbide is also far more rigid, making it more accurate at high speeds.
You should also look at the finish of your tools. Many end mills and drill bits will be treated with certain coatings that will increase their performance. The most common coating for endmills for aluminum is zirconium nitride or ZrN. This material helps to lower the friction coefficient of your tool in order to ensure that chips will not get stuck to the cutting edges.
The final step to finding the best end mills for aluminum is to choose a quality manufacturer to purchase your tools from. If you need some help there, check out Online Carbide. As an American manufacturer of solid carbide end mills and drill bits, Online Carbide is a brand dedicated to offering shop owners the high speed cutting tools that they need at incredible prices. If you have any questions about the tools they offer or you are interested in having custom cutters manufactured for your shop, feel free to reach out to a member of the Online Carbide team by sending an email to [email protected]