Wednesday, April 24, 2024

The Right End Mill for Aluminum

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There are many different types of end mills used for specific materials. This is due to the different qualities and properties of the materials. So when it comes to aluminum, you need to choose an end mill that responds positively to the properties of the material.

So how do you choose the best end mills for aluminum?

Get to Know the Properties of Aluminum

The most important part of finding the best end mills for aluminum is to understand its profile. It is one of the most used metals in the world, as it is light and very flexible. This makes it ideal for many industries and applications.

The flexibility of aluminum makes it easy to machine and mill, making it ideal for advanced milling techniques. However, there are two types of aluminum used in industrial applications. Cast aluminum is very flexible, but has low strength. It is not pure aluminum, which makes it cheaper and contains a significant amount of other elements such as magnesium.

Wrought aluminum is pure metal, it is resistant to heat and is produced through smelting pure aluminum. Due to this quality, it is a very excellent material for any machining process and can be cast into any shape.

However, both types of aluminum have a lower melting point. Which means that any prolonged exposure to friction can damage the tool and the material being milled. So if your goal is to mill a lot of materials, the wrong end mill could affect the quality of the products, plus it could mean more expenses for more end mills.

Considerations for Choosing an End Mill

So fi you want to find the right end mill that could endure the friction and heat of machining without affecting the quality of the material, you need to consider the following:

Check the geometry of the end mill.

Look at the shape and design of the end mill, as it will depend on the type of machining you plan to do. So for the following machining processes, the subsequent geometries are ideal:

  • Square end mills – Plunge cutting, profiling, slotting, side milling
  • Long neck end mills – pocketing, reducing interference between material and tool
  • Ball nose end mills – rounding contours, flat bottomed pockets
  • Corner radius end mills – milling molds and dies
  • Taper end mills – grooves, holes, angled side milling

Check the coating used in the end mill.

Coatings are used to add hardness and reduce abrasion. They can lengthen a tool’s lifespan, and create a barrier between it and the workpiece. Coatings can reduce heat when milling, but there are few coatings that are ideal for aluminum. The following are the most suitable:

  • Diamond coating – has high lubrication and reduces the need for a coolant. The natural hardness of the diamond protects the tool and lengthens tool life.
  • nACRo – this coating is best for high temperatures as it protects the tool against abrasion and very high heat.
  • ZrN – this coating is used for abrasive aluminum alloys and can protect against friction and abrasion.

Check the flutes.

Flutes are the number of cutting blades in the end mill, which start from the tip and spiral down the length of the body. So the number of flutes can determine accuracy, wear time, chip evacuation capacity, and performance.

The best end mills for aluminum have two to three flutes, with two flutes ideal for milling and three flutes for finishing.  There are exceptions, and it’s best to see what works for your machining processes.

Check the angle.

The best end mills for aluminum have helix angles that are 45, 50 or 55 degrees. They have the right balance between extraction and rigidity, which makes it easier to accomplish the accuracy needed. 

These factors will help you find the best end mills for aluminum, no matter what type it is. Find the right one and your milling and machining processes with this material will be more efficient and productive.

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