Which Specific Tool Dimensions Are Needed
Which Specific Tool Dimensions Are Needed?
After specifying the material you are working in, the operation(s) that are going to be performed, the number of flutes required, and the next step are making sure that your end mill selection has the correct dimensions for the job. Examples of key considerations include cutter diameter, length of the cut, reach, and profile.
The cutter diameter is the dimension that will define the width of a slot, formed by the cutting edges of the tool as it rotates. Selecting a cutter diameter that is the wrong size – either too large or small – can lead to the job not being completed successfully or a final part not being to specifications. For example, smaller cutter diameters offer more clearance within tight pockets, while larger tools provide increased rigidity in high-volume jobs.
Length of Cut & Reach
The length of cut needed for any end mill should be dictated by the longest contact length during an operation. This should be only as long as needed, and no longer. Selecting the shortest tool possible will result in a minimized overhang, a more rigid setup, and reduced chatter. As a rule of thumb, if an application calls for cutting at a depth greater than 5x the tool diameter, it may be optimal to explore necked reach options as a substitute for a long length of cut.
The most common profile styles for end mills are square, corner radius, and ball. The square profile on an end mill has flutes with sharp corners that are squared off at 90°. A corner radius profile replaces the fragile sharp corner with a radius, adding strength and helping to prevent chipping while prolonging tool life. Finally, a ball profile features flutes with no flat bottom and is rounded off at the end creating a “ball nose” at the tip of the tool. This is the strongest end mill style. A fully rounded cutting edge has no corner, removing the most likely failure point from the tool, contrary to a sharp edge on a square profile end mill. An end mill profile is often chosen by part requirements, such as square corners within a pocket, requiring a square end mill. When possible, opt for a tool with the largest corner radius allowable by your part requirements. We recommend a corner radii whenever your application allows for it. If square corners are required, consider roughing with a corner radius tool and finishing with the square profile tool.
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