Thursday, June 17, 2021

A Guide to Choosing the Right End Mills

 

A Guide to Choosing the Right End Mills

For newcomers, terms such as end mills, routers, drill bits, burrs, slot drills, milling cutters and burrs can be baffling, let alone then trying to work out which bits will be required for particular jobs. The good news is that a simple guide can help even newcomers to make sense of these terms and make the right choices. 

CNC Machines

End mills or milling cutters are used in CNC machines. Specialised software is made use of in order to send the machine automated milling instructions (sometimes called a “toolpath”) which will then be able to cut a design away within your particular stock material.

Almost any material can be cut with the use of a CNC machine including the likes of metals, plastic and wood. The reason why end mills are used instead of drill bits is due to the fact that a drill bit tends to move upwards and downwards, while end mills normally move side to side (although there are some end mills that are capable of moving in any direction).

End Mills

End mills are used to cut rotationally within a horizontal or side to side direction and come in a wide array of different lengths, flutes, types and lengths. They are selected according to the nature of the material that they are intended to cut as well as the project’s required surface finish. 

End mills serve as the milling world’s cutters and are used for the likes of contouring, counter-boring, profiling, reaming and slotting. End mills enable precision cutting of parts from almost anything including circuit boards, jewellery designs, machine parts, mould making, plastic cutting, sign making and wood engravings. 

End mill Flutes

The cutting edges that feature on the side of end mills and are spiral in appearance are known as flutes. Flutes offer an empty path through which cutting chips can escape when the end mills are rotating within a work-piece. End mills can have two, three or four flutes with every bit, though two or four are the most common. 

Flute End Mills (Slot Drills)

These are used with aluminium and wood. It is best to have fewer flutes for chip evacuation as this helps to ensure the bit stays cooler but leaves a rough surface cut. 2 is the best number of flutes to use with aluminium and wood as the result is much larger chips than is the case with other materials, and are known as slot drills. 

Flute End Mills

These are used on almost every other material. 4 is the best number here as they are able to cut much harder materials than just two and will result in a much smoother overall finish. 

There are many different types of end mills, including fish tail points for plunge routing, V-bits for engraving, ball nose end mills for contour milling, roughing end mills for larger surface work, and square end mills for general applications. 

It is important to choose the tooling that is correct for the material and project in order to ensure a quality result, shop our favourite end mills at RS Components, or other leading suppliers. 

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