Choosing the Right End Mill for Your Precision Cutting Tools

End mills for aluminum

Does your shop use a milling machine? If so, it’s important to make sure that you are choosing the right type of mill cutter for your machine. Mill cutters vary in size and style, but their purpose is generally the same: to drill (or mill) holes of varying sizes and shapes into various materials. For example, you might require end mills for aluminum, so you would need the right kind of precision cutting tools for this job. Similarly, if you are performing a cut with a ball end mill, which has a rounded (or ball-nosed) shape at its end, then you would want to use this tool with the right kind of metal.

If you’re not sure how to figure which type of end mill you need in your milling machine, here are some criteria you can follow when seeking the correct parts:

    1. Materials: Depending on how long you need your milling cutter to last, you’ll want to select the appropriate materials for one. High-speed steel (HSS) has a relatively short lifespan and is inexpensive, but cobalt-bearing cutters can run up to 10% faster. While HSS is appropriate for most tasks, cemented carbide is the most long-lasting type of cutting tool available, and it can be more economical in the long run. Some tools are coated with materials like titanium nitrade, which can increase the life of those end mills.
    2. Flutes and teeth: The teeth consist of the protruding spiral around the bit, where the flutes are the spaces between the teeth. The teeth do the actual cutting work for end mills. Generally, the more teeth on a cutting tool, the faster it can move.
    3. Helix angle: The helix of a cutting tool looks like the double helix shape you see in DNA models. The lower the angle, the harder or tougher the metal the end mill can cut. Additionally, tighter helix angles can deliver a better finish to a product.
    4. End: The shape of the end of the mill cutter can vary depending on what sort of cut is required. Ball end mills are used to create 3D contoured shapes, such as molds and dies. In addition to ball end mills, other types of ends include those for roughing and shaping; some end mills will have teeth on the sides and ends.
    5. Size: The length and diameter of the end mill are also important when selecting a cutting tool. The diameter will determine the shape and size of the hole or contour created.

If you’re unsure what kind of cutting tool you need, always ask a distributor or other machine tooling expert. Have suggestions? Leave them in the comments section.